WA State Gets $35M and Counting in Chicken Price-Fixing Lawsuit
The Washington State Attorney Genera's Office announced Wednesday, April 5th, they have to date received $35 million from 14 of 19 chicken producers stemming from a price-fixing lawsuit.
AG's office says they are working on a plan "to distribute recoveries from this lawsuit to assist impacted Washingtonians."
The suit, which was filed in 2021, claims chicken producers conspired to raise prices unfairly. According to the information release:
"The Attorney General’s Office asserts all 19 chicken producers drove up the price of chicken since at least 2008, causing consumers to overpay by millions of dollars. The lawsuit asserts a widespread illegal conspiracy to inflate and manipulate prices, rig contract bids, illegally exchange information and coordinate industry supply reductions to maximize profits."
Alaska and New Mexico have filed anti-trust suits against many of these same vendors. The list of companies who have paid a total of $35 million (combined) includes:
- Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. for $11,000,000;
- Tyson Foods for $10,500,000;
- Perdue Farms, Inc. for $6,500,000;
- Koch Foods Inc. for $1,400,000;
- Peco Foods, Inc. for $800,000;
- Mountaire Farms, Inc. for $775,000;
- George’s, Inc. for $750,000;
- Mar Jac Poultry for $725,000;
- Amick Farms, LLC for $600,000;
- Fieldale Farms Corp. For $475,000;
- Simmons Foods, Inc. for $425,000;
- Case Foods, Inc. for $395,000;
- O.K. Foods, Inc. for $375,000; and
- Harrison Poultry, Inc. for $290,000.
These companies have resolved their cases with the AG's office, while another five producers are set to go to a trial in early 2024. Those businesses include:
- Foster Farms, LLC;
- Sanderson Farms, Inc.;
- Wayne Farms, LLC;
- House of Raeford Farms, Inc.; and
- Norman W. Fries, Inc. d/b/a Claxton Poultry Farms, Inc
The suit alleges that these companies colluded in a variety of anticompetitive practices to coordinate supply and manipulate prices of broiler chickens since 2008. Broilers are where the bulk of chicken products come from for consumers. According to the AG's office, one example of this conduct included:
"...a former Tyson Foods sales representative admitted that he colluded with employees from three other chicken producers to make a “substantial pricing increase” in the products they all sold to Kentucky Fried Chicken, Popeye’s and Boston Market. "
The restaurants and other recipients of the chicken were not aware of the colluding, said Ferguson's office.
Where will settlement money go?
We reached out to the AG's office to ask specifically which Washington residents, referred to as the "most impacted" by the AG's report, would be receiving funds and how the process would be handled.
In an email from Brianna Aho of the AG's office, we were told:
"Those details are still being decided."
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