Less than a month after Pilgrim’s Pride Corp was sentenced by the U.S. District Court in Denver to pay $107 million in criminal fines for participating in conspiracy, bid-rigging, and price-fixing, a new episode shakes the poultry industry in Alaska.
This time, the state of Alaska has sued 21 poultry companies after claiming they conspired and operated a cartel to illegally inflate the price of most chicken sold in the state, informed the Anchorage Daily Times, late last week. The lawsuit filed in the state court of Alaska seeks more than $1 billion from the nation’s largest poultry producers, distributors, and pricers. Also, Alaska asks for damages, restitution, attorney fees, and costs.
The lawsuit involves broiler chickens, which account for 98% of all chicken sold in the United States, affirmed the Seattle Times.
Maria Bahr, the Alaska Assistant Attorney General, said the state alleges a cartel of corporations “engaged in an illegal conspiracy to restrain production and manipulate pricing to artificially inflate the price of broiler chicken throughout the United States, including Alaska”. Additionally, she said, Alaska has hired two law firms to help with the lawsuit (Nix Patterson LLP and Fosler Law Inc.)
This lawsuit is only one of many that have been presented in the last five years. In 2016, the largest chicken companies in the U.S. were responsible for cutting the chicken supply and increase its price markedly in a joint work. One year later, the producers responded to one lawsuit saying that it was a “Conspiracy Theory” due to the price fluctuations that includes the Great Recession.
Apart from Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Tyson Food Inc., the largest poultry company in the U.S., also entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in January to pay more than $200 million to settle a class-action lawsuit. However, Tyson informed that the company did not admit liability as part of the settlements and refused to comment why Tyson settled when other chicken producers did not.
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