DOJ Charges Chicken-Exec With Price Fixing

According to the Wall Street Journal, the CEO of one of the country’s biggest chicken producers and three other industry executives were indicted Wednesday, June 3, for allegedly conspiring to fix prices on chickens sold to restaurants and grocery stores, the Justice Department’s first charges in a continuing criminal antitrust probe.

The one-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Colorado, alleges current and former senior executives at Pilgrim’s Pride and Claxton Poultry Farms fixed prices and rigged bids from 2012 to 2017.

Colorado-based Pilgrim’s is the nation’s second largest producer. Company CEO Jayson Penn was charged, as was a former Pilgrim’s vice president, Roger Austin. The president of Georgia-based Claxton, Mikell Fries, and a vice president, Scott Brady, were both indicted.

Collusion accusations have shadowed the US$65 billion US chicken industry since late 2016, when restaurant companies and other poultry buyers sued major poultry producers, accusing them of illegally coordinating operations to inflate prices. The chicken companies, including Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, and Perdue Farms, have denied those allegations.

Full Content: Wall Street Journal

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