In this file:
· Update on case in Tyson report
Investors briefed on antitrust filing
· DOJ issues subpoena to Tyson in ongoing price-fixing lawsuit
… court documents say that the poultry companies, listed as defendants, engaged in price fixing from 2008 to 2016…
· Tyson turns to metal-detecting X-ray machines after massive chicken recall
… the company recalled about 12 million pounds of chicken in the U.S…
· Tyson Plans to Profit From Tainted Chinese Pork
... swine fever could “impact the global protein industry on a level that we have never experienced”...
Update on case in Tyson report
Investors briefed on antitrust filing
by Nathan Owens, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette
May 8, 2019
The U.S. Department of Justice is interested in a civil antitrust case alleging the artificial inflation of chicken prices, according to Tyson Foods Inc.'s quarterly earnings report.
After three years of court filings on the matter, Tyson Foods on Monday updated investors on recent developments in the pending civil case, including a note that the Justice Department wants some information.
"Plaintiffs notified us on April 26, 2019 that the U.S. Department of Justice issued a grand jury subpoena to them requesting discovery produced by all parties in the case," Tyson said Monday in its quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
A subpoena signals "there's likely a price-fixing criminal investigation underway," said Robert Steinbuch, a law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
"When the [Department of Justice] does a criminal investigation, it's a serious matter," he said.
In October, the Justice Department wrapped up a yearslong investigation into the "big three" tuna suppliers, Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and Starkist. Chicken of the Sea was granted amnesty for blowing the whistle on the conspiracy, but Bumble Bee and Starkist pleaded guilty and faced fines of up to $100 million. They now face more than 70 civil lawsuits lodged by Target, Sysco and others. Starkist settled with Walmart earlier this year for $20 million.
The Justice Department did not return a message left Tuesday for comment on the chicken price-fixing case.
In a teleconference Monday morning, an analyst asked Noel White, Tyson's president and chief executive officer, for comment on the subpoenas.
"All I can say ... is that we're disappointed that it went this far, but I'm not going to make any comments on any pending lawsuits," White said.
Since food distributor Maplevale Farms filed the first civil complaint, alleging U.S. chicken packers conspired to "fix" the price of broiler chickens by cutting their production and supply and manipulating a now-defunct chicken price index, the Georgia Dock, others have filed add-on complaints seeking class-action status, including Kroger, Sysco and Hooters.
Plaintiffs allege chicken producers shared confidential production data, destroyed flocks of breeder hens and closed plants, to raise broiler prices by 50% over a 10-year stretch starting in 2008.
Defendants named in the antitrust case control about 90 percent of the wholesale chicken market, according to Illinois federal court documents. Four of them have headquarters in Arkansas --
DOJ issues subpoena to Tyson in ongoing price-fixing lawsuit
By Ryan McCarthy, Meat+Poultry
SPRINGDALE, Ark. — In a May 6 quarterly filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Tyson Foods said that the US Dept. of Justice issued a grand jury subpoena to the company for an ongoing price-fixing lawsuit.
Tyson said the plaintiffs notified the company on April 26 with the case in the discovery phase.
The company said that decisions on class certification and summary judgment motions likely filed by defendants will not be expected before the “the latter part of calendar year 2020 under the scheduling order currently governing the case.”
The price-fixing litigation began in September 2016 when Maplevale Farms, a food distributor, filed a lawsuit alleging that Tyson and several other poultry companies named conspired as early as January 2008 to “fix, raise, maintain, and stabilize” prices for broiler chickens.
Additional lawsuits have been filed since including one earlier in 2019 when Kraft Heinz Co., Conagra Brands Inc., Nestle USA Inc. and Nestle Purina Petcare Co. filed a lawsuit in Chicago federal court, claiming Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and other poultry processors conspired to inflate chicken prices.
The court documents say that the poultry companies, listed as defendants, engaged in price fixing from 2008 to 2016.
The filing says chicken suppliers coordinated to destroy chickens in order to reduce the supply of broilers and drive up prices.
The suit dealt with the price fixing of broiler chickens “…via unprecedented cuts at the top of the supply chain in the form of jointly and collusively reducing ‘breeder flocks’ that produce chickens ultimately slaughtered for meat consumption.”
The second part of the suit alleged manipulation of...
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Tyson turns to metal-detecting X-ray machines after massive chicken recall
By Benjamin Raven, MLive.com (MI)
May 8, 2019
A Tyson Foods executive says that the company will turn to “metal-detecting X-ray machinery” as a hopeful solution after the company recalled about 12 million pounds of chicken in the U.S.
Barbara Masters, vice president of regulatory food policy, and food and agriculture for the company, made the comments to MarketWatch in the aftermath of the massive recall of its ready-to-eat frozen chicken products. This comes after Tyson announced a recall expansion through the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 1,760,424 pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat chicken strip products due to the risk they are contaminated with pieces of metal.
“Our company is taking corrective action,” Masters told MarketWatch.
“We have discontinued use of the specific equipment believed to be associated with the metal fragments, and we will be installing metal-detecting X-ray machinery to replace the plant’s existing metal-detection system.”
The federal agency’s inspection division said the original issue came up in late March after it received two consumer complaints of contaminated products. Fast forward to the present and the USDA is aware of six reports “involving similar pieces of metal with three alleging oral injury.”
Affected products were produced between Oct. 1, 2018 and March 8 of this year, and shipped to retail and Department of Defense locations stateside and to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers,” the USDA writes in its news release announcing the recall...
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Tyson Plans to Profit From Tainted Chinese Pork
By Lydia Mulvany and Bloomberg
via Fortune - May 6, 2019
Tyson Foods Inc. says it’s poised to take advantage of a hog disease in China that will ripple through the global protein industry, although it can’t say for sure when those benefits will start or how big they’ll be.
In an earnings release Monday, the top U.S. meat processor said swine fever could “impact the global protein industry on a level that we have never experienced.” Tyson’s chicken business is set to benefit from China’s pig woes as consumers there look for cheap alternative proteins.
Still, the Springdale, Arkansas-based company is sticking with previous full-year guidance as higher hog costs counter pork-price gains. Tyson buys hogs for its pork and prepared foods segments...