(Reuters) – Tyson Foods Inc said on Wednesday it will pay $221.5 million to settle litigation by three groups of plaintiffs that accused it of illegally conspiring to inflate chicken prices.
The settlements with so-called “end-user” consumers, commercial purchasers, and purchasers that bought chickens directly from Tyson require approval by a federal judge in Chicago.
Tyson did not admit liability in agreeing to settle, and said the payments will be reflected in its first-quarter financial statements. (https://bit.ly/3irbA5a)
The Springdale, Arkansas-based company still faces price-fixing claims by some large restaurant chains, supermarket operators and food distributors such as Chick-fil-A, Kroger Co, Walmart Inc and Sysco Corp.
Tyson’s settlements resolve all class claims against the company in litigation that began in 2016 over alleged collusion in the $65 billion chicken industry.
Restaurants, supermarkets, distributors and consumers accused chicken producers of having conspired since 2008 to inflate chicken prices, through tactics such as restricting production and sharing nonpublic data about supply and demand.
Pilgrim’s Pride Corp, owned mainly by Brazil’s JBS SA, agreed on Jan. 11 to pay $75 million to settle claims by direct purchasers of chickens.
Perdue Farms Inc and Sanderson Farms Inc are among the other defendants in the litigation. A few smaller producers have settled related claims.
The U.S. Department of Justice last year filed criminal price-fixing and bid-rigging charges in Denver against 10 poultry industry executives. All have pleaded not guilty.
The case is In re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 16-08637.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Andrea Ricci)