Friday, May 20, 2022

A state wins poultry price-fixing case

 Washington State has won a price-fixing case.

Most of the cases so far have been customers who filed class-action lawsuits against chicken processing companies.

Washington State’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, announced a settlement with Mar-Jac Poultry, the first in the state's antitrust lawsuit against 19 broiler chicken processors.

Mar-Jac will pay the attorney general's office a total of $725,000 to resolve the claims against it, according to the consent decree.

The 19 chicken companies were charged with conspiracy to inflate and manipulate prices, rig contract bids and coordinate industry supply reductions to maximize profits. The lawsuit also accuses industry data reporting service Agri Stats of assisting in the conspiracy.

Ferguson asserts the defendants drove up the price of chicken, causing Washington consumers to overpay by millions of dollars. The attorney general’s office said its investigation found a coordinated, industry-wide effort to cut production through the exchange of competitively sensitive information, signals during investor calls and direct coordination between players in the industry.