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Halal Industry

Chicken price-fixing case expanded by U.S. with six indictments

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The two companies cited in this story, Pilgrim's Pride and Tyson Foods, supply halal-certified poultry products.



Published 07 Oct,2020 via Bloomberg Markets - Federal prosecutors expanded a probe of price fixing in the U.S. chicken industry with indictments of six more executives and managers, following charges in June that included some of the biggest producers.

A total of 10 people have now been accused of conspiring to suppress competition by rigging bids and fixing chicken prices, according to a federal court filing Tuesday in Colorado. The superseding indictment was earlier reported by Dow Jones. Four of the defendants were charged in June.

The allegations of price fixing have overshadowed the industry as the Covid-19 pandemic shut down poultry-processing plants with workers catching the virus. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.’s former Chief Executive Officer Jayson Penn, who had been named in the first indictment, left the Greeley, Colorado-based company last month. Pilgrim’s is the second-biggest U.S. chicken producer. Penn has pleaded not guilty.

The criminal complaint cites phone calls and text messages among the defendants in which they discuss price fixing. The prosecution comes after grocers, restaurants and consumers sued chicken producers, alleging they conspired to keep meat prices elevated.

Tyson Foods Inc., the top U.S. chicken producer, said in June it was cooperating in the department’s probe.

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Michael Hirtzer