Each executive faces one count of price-fixing, with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine, which may be raised if ill-gotten gains or losses to victims are found to be higher than $1 million.
“Executives who cheat American consumers, restaurateurs and grocers, and compromise the integrity of our food supply, will be held responsible for their actions,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement.
Pilgrim’s Pride did not respond to a request for comment. A lawyer for Claxton Farms, Charles Murphy, did not respond to a request for comment.
Accusations of collusion have dogged the U.S. chicken industry since 2016, when Maplevale Farms, a food service firm in upstate New York, filed a lawsuit saying that Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, Perdue Farms and other companies had conspired to fix the price of broiler chickens.
Maplevale claimed that Tyson and Pilgrim’s, the country’s two largest producers, led these companies in a scheme to destroy hens that bred new chickens, causing a significant increase in prices. The suit asserts that from 2008 to 2016, the wholesale price of broiler chicken rose 50 percent, despite a reduction in some of the key costs of chicken breeding, including corn and soybeans.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/03/business/pilgrims-pride-chicken-price-fixing.html