The U.S. Department of Justice has initiated a criminal inquiry into claims that top poultry processors united to keep prices unnaturally high. It is a charge that has followed the chicken industry for many years, but it has never lead to criminal proceedings before. In April, the Justice Department had informed Tyson (TSN) that it has ordered a grand jury and noted the company to offer proof. On Friday, federal lawyers asked a judge to stop accepting the evidence for the upcoming six months. By doing so, the attorneys want to assure the fairness of the grand jury’s inquiry. During the court filing, the U.S. Justice Department said it is conducting a review same as the civil complaint.
Maplevale Farms, a New York foodservice distributor, filed the case for the first time around three years ago in September 2016. At the time, the food service supplier claimed that 28 chicken companies planned and united to fix, lift, protect, and balance the cost of broilers. They are a leading type of chicken brought up for production in the U.S. While Maplevale claims the chicken producers teamed up their outcomes and limited chicken production aiming to boost prices. Even more, Maplevale claims that the chicken manufacturing companies, directed by Tyson and Pilgrim’s, made coordinated production cuts in 2008, 2010, and 2011. At the time, the move resulted in the destruction of groups of breeder hens liable for egg production. Besides, the coordinated costs resulted in a significant rise in the price of broiler chickens.
According to the reports of Watt, a poultry industry business publication, Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson, and Perdue jointly control more than half of the chicken industry. On the other hand, on Tuesday, Tyson said the Justice Department’s appeal to get involved in the Maplevale Farms does not change their aspect. The company claims there is simply no value to the assertions that Tyson Foods teamed up with competitors. Even more, the chicken producer remains committed to protect itself against the groundless accusations actively. Whereas Pilgrim’s Pride noted it firmly denies any claims of anti-competitive action. Besides the chicken producer welcomes the opportunity to protect itself against these claims through the legal procedures.