US poultry processor to pay $75m in civil price-fixing claim

US poultrymeat giant Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has agreed to pay buyers $75m (£55.2m) in a civil price-fixing claim settlement.

The payout is to a group of buyers that purchase chicken directly from Pilgrim’s and who alleged it, and other processors, had kept prices artificially high.

The group has also agreed an undisclosed sum from the poultry processor Tyson Foods after claims were lodged within a similar action under US antitrust laws.

Neither company has admitted liability, and both said settling was in their best interests.

See also: How ‘ethical’ poultry producers can achieve £5.50/kg

The civil action followed a US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into criminal price-fixing and bid-rigging in the $65bn (£49.56bn) US poultrymeat market.

Department officials said there had been a conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids and engage in other anti-competitive activity.

The seven-year investigation concluded in 2019 and Pilgrim agreed to pay $110,524,140 (£84,269,130) in fines under a plea bargain settlement reached in autumn 2020.

The plea agreement concerned three contracts for the sale of chicken products to one customer in the US.

Under the agreement, the DOJ pledged not to bring further charges against the company for any antitrust violation involving the sale of broiler chicken products in the US occurring prior to the date of the agreement.