Coral Murphy, USA TODAY
Published 3:36 p.m. ET June 3, 2020 | Updated 4:10 p.m. ET June 3, 2020
Pandemics like the coronavirus can have crippling effects on our food supply. The bottleneck starts from the processing plants.
Pilgrim’s Pride’s chief executive and three other chicken industry executives were charged with conspiring to fix prices on chickens sold to restaurants and grocery stores, according to Bloomberg.
This comes as part of a continuing criminal antitrust probe by the Justice Department of allegations that surfaced last year.
Pilgrim’s Pride CEO Jayson Penn and the company’s vice president were indicted by a grand jury in Colorado. Claxton Poultry Farms President Mikell Fries and Vice President Scott Brady were also charged.
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USA TODAY reached out to the companies for comment.
The investigation also included rivals Tyson Foods and Sanderson Farms, who have been accused of conspiring to raise prices for broiler chickens. Both Tyson and Sanderson farms have denied the allegations.
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The civil case was filed initially by chicken purchaser Maplevale Farms. Restaurant companies, including Sysco and US Foods Holding, and other poultry buyers such as Walmart and Kroger Co., joined the efforts to sue major poultry producers.
Shares of Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson and Sanderson Farms fell amid the news.
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