Chicken Companies Probed By FL Prosecutors Over Price Fixing

The company said that the claims were without merit but that it was cooperating with Florida officials.

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Florida prosecutors are reportedly joining the investigation into alleged price fixing by the country's top chicken producers.

Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride this week each disclosed an inquiry by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office related to federal lawsuits filed last year, and Reuters reported that Sanderson Farms was also included in the probe.

Tyson officials told the publication that Bondi's office largely sought information related to the Georgia Dock, a chicken pricing index published by Georgia's agriculture department until it was shut down amid concerns that companies could manipulate it.

A civil lawsuit filed in Chicago federal court alleged that companies accounting for 90 percent of the domestic chicken market colluded to raise fewer chickens and stabilize prices beginning in 2008.

(AP Photo)(AP Photo)

The producers allegedly maintained profits using internal company data released to an outside firm. The scheme also reportedly including purchasing each other's products, destroying flocks and shipping excess hens to Mexico.

An analyst warned last year that the allegations were "powerfully convincing" and would "explain a lot" of the behavior of the chicken market in recent years.

Tyson, the U.S. market leader, previously disclosed a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission likely relating to the allegations.

The company said that the claims were without merit but that it was cooperating with Florida officials.

"It’s not uncommon to see state AGs investigate antitrust allegations made in civil cases that seek to collect damages on behalf of consumers within their states," Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson told Reuters.

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