Chicken industry price-fixing probe expands

Six more executives and managers were accused of conspiring in a years-long effort to rig bids and fix chicken prices.


By Michael Hirtzer, Bloomberg

via NebraskaFarmer - Oct 08, 2020


Federal prosecutors expanded a probe into price-fixing in the U.S. chicken industry, shedding light on the involvement of top producer Tyson Foods Inc., which is cooperating with the investigation.


Tyson delivered a bombshell in June when the company said it was cooperating with the U.S. Justice Departmentís investigation. The admission came just after executives at Pilgrimís Pride Corp., the second-biggest chicken producer, were indicted in the scheme. Left out, however, was how Tyson was involved.


A new indictment, filed in federal court on Tuesday, makes the connection a bit clearer. Six more executives and managers, including two former Tyson workers, were accused of conspiring with the four initially indicted in June in a years-long effort to rig bids and fix chicken prices.


The allegations are the latest legal entanglement for American meat producers over how their products are priced and how workers are treated in the plants that turn animals into food. The industry already has been reeling from Covid-19 outbreaks that shut down slaughter plants and eroded beef, poultry and pork production earlier this year.


Tyson declined to comment on the latest indictment, pointing to a June 10 statement that said it had uncovered information pertaining to the investigation and immediately alerted the DOJ and was applying for leniency in the matter.


While the indictment doesnít name Tyson, it states that two of the indicted, Timothy Mulrenin and Gary Brian Roberts, worked at ďSupplier-3,Ē a company headquartered in Arkansas -- where Tyson is based in the town of Springdale.


Mulrenin was a director of sales at Tyson prior to moving to Perdue Farms in 2018, while Roberts was a vice president at Tyson prior to joining Case Foods Inc., according to their LinkedIn pages. The indictment also mentioned but did not name two additional employees at Supplier-3.


Pilgrimís Pride didnít reply to a request for comment. Perdue declined to comment. The National Chicken Council said it does not comment on legal matters of its members. Mulrenin and Roberts didnít reply to messages on LinkedIn.


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