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Serving: United States
broiler chickens Credit: buhanovskiy/iStock/Thinkstock.

Pilgrim's, DOJ reach plea deal

Agreement brings end to price-fixing investigation involving broiler chickens.

Pilgrim's Pride Corporation has entered into a plea agreement with the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division in respect to its investigation into price fixing allegations involving broiler-chicken products that took place between 2012 and 2019.

In the plea agreement, which is subject to the approval of the United States District Court of Colorado, Pilgrim’s and the Antitrust Division agreed to a fine of $110.5 million.

“Pilgrim’s is committed to fair and honest competition in compliance with U.S. antitrust laws,” said Fabio Sandri, Pilgrim’s CEO. “We are encouraged that today’s agreement concludes the Antitrust Division’s investigation into Pilgrim’s, providing certainty regarding this matter to our team members, suppliers, customers and shareholders.”

The case against Pilgrim's was part of an investigation into allegations of price fixing by chicken processors. Tyson Foods and Sanderson Farms also received grand jury subpoenas in the investigation. All three companies were accused of conspiring to raise prices for broiler chickens in civil lawsuits.

The agreement does not recommend a monitor, any restitution or probationary period, and provides that the Antitrust Division will bring no further charges against Pilgrim’s in this matter, provided the company complies with the terms and provisions of the agreement.

The Oct. 14 announcement is the latest to stem from the investigation. Jayson Penn, the former CEO of Pilgrim's Pride along with Roger Austin, a former vice president of the company, were indicted in June 2020 by a grand jury in Colorado. They faced a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sandri assumed the top post in September, according to Meat+Poultry.

Earlier this month, six additional poultry company executives were indicted by a federal district court in Colorado for their alleged roles in the price fixing conspiracy.

Pilgrim’s expects to record the fine as a miscellaneous expense in its financial statements in the third quarter of 2020.

Pilgrim's Pride is a unit of JBS SA.

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