Broken Record Alert: Poultry Price Fixing

Dec 11, 2020

Target and Chick-fil-A are the two newest faces to join the poultry price fixing saga in the past week.

Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, and over a dozen other poultry companies were named in the most recent filings. The alleged issues revolve around the companies conspiring by sharing confidential information around prices, demand, sales volume, and bids.

To put it lightly, Target is ticked:

“We filed a lawsuit against these suppliers to recoup the unfair costs that Target was charged for nearly a decade and protect guests and retailers against this harmful behavior in the future,” noted a Target spokeswoman.

And if bid-rigging cases sound familiar, it’s because they are. Meat producers, packers, and processors have been routinely accused by their customers for antitrust issues since 2008.

  • In the pork industry, a 2018 lawsuit wrapped Hormel, Tyson, JBS, and Smithfield into a similar price fixing ring. The issue at stake: their collective claim of 70% of the market led to too much buddy-buddy time.
  • Cargill, Tyson, National Beef Packing, and JBS were sued for price fixing to boost their behemoth beef margins even as cattle prices plunged in 2015 while grocery store beef prices notched record levels.

And then there’s Agri Stats. The friend your parents always side-eyed in your social circle…

Named a co-defendant in a majority of the cases, Agri Stats is a price forecasting and benchmarking service for meat companies. The firm has been called out as the ringleader of sorts as litigators believe it facilitates antitrust activity, spreading information around prices, slaughter rates, and volumes.

 Price fixing lawsuits typically include long litigation timetables with eventual settlements. We’ll see when and how these reach an end.