Big Chicken settles $35 million lawsuit in fowl price fixing scheme
Apr 5, 2023, 10:24 AM | Updated: Apr 6, 2023, 11:44 am
(Photo by Gado/Getty Images)
In a lawsuit against 19 chicken producers alleging a massive price-fixing conspiracy, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced 14 manufacturers have paid $35 million to resolve claims against them.
A lawsuit filed in October of 2021 alleged that 19 chicken producers participated in a “sweeping conspiracy” to inflate prices, “rig contract bids,” and manufacture supply shortages.
Tyson Foods to pay WA $10.5M in chicken price-fixing settlement
Ferguson’s allegations date back to 2008, claiming that the companies named in his lawsuit “coordinated to reduce production … resulting in significant production cuts and higher prices.” That effort was said to have been managed “through press releases and investor calls,” as well as at investment bank conferences and trade meetings with senior executives in attendance.
An estimated 90% of Washingtonians buy products derived from the chickens these companies produce.
“If you bought chicken in the last several years, you paid more for that chicken than you should have because of the illegal conduct from these companies,” Ferguson said. “This is yet another milestone in our case against the companies involved in this conspiracy — but we are not done. They drove up the price of chicken and cheated hardworking Washingtonians. Antitrust laws protect consumers when company executives conspire to rig the system. I will hold all of the conspirators accountable.”
Ferguson’s office has already reached a $10.5 million settlement with Tyson Foods, which “does not admit any liability” in the settlement, but instead thought that the payment was “in the best interests of the company and its shareholders” as a way to “avoid the uncertainty, expense, and burden of protracted litigation.”
The 14 companies that paid to resolve the claims are:
- Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. for $11,000,000;
- Tyson Foods for $10,500,000;
- Perdue Farms, Inc. for $6,500,000;
- Koch Foods Inc. for $1,400,000;
- Peco Foods, Inc. for $800,000;
- Mountaire Farms, Inc. for $775,000;
- George’s, Inc. for $750,000;
- Mar Jac Poultry for $725,000;
- Amick Farms, LLC for $600,000;
- Fieldale Farms Corp. For $475,000;
- Simmons Foods, Inc. for $425,000;
- Case Foods, Inc. for $395,000;
- O.K. Foods, Inc. for $375,000; and
- Harrison Poultry, Inc. for $290,000.
The remaining five defendants in the lawsuit will face a trial scheduled for October 2024.
- Foster Farms, LLC;
- Sanderson Farms, Inc.;
- Wayne Farms, LLC;
- House of Raeford Farms, Inc.; and
- Norman W. Fries, Inc. d/b/a Claxton Poultry Farms, Inc.
Two other states, Alaska and New Mexico, filed similar antitrust cases against national chicken producers.