DOJ Fines Pilgrim’s Pride $110 Million Over Price-Fixing Charges

The fine comes as the Department of Justice ramps up pressure on chicken industry executives over antitrust practices.

US poultry company Pilgrim’s Pride announced on Wednesday that it would pay a $110.5 million fine as part of a plea deal with the US Department of Justice.

The agreement relates to the DOJ’s investigation into alleged price-fixing in the sale of boiler chicken products, according to the release.

Pilgrim’s said that the DOJ’s antitrust division levied the fine for restraint of competition, which affected three contracts for the sale of chicken products to one customer in the US.

“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,” said Fabio Sandri, Pilgrim’s interim chief executive officer.

Pilgrim’s is the US’s second largest supplier of broiler chicken after Tyson Foods. The $110 million fine follows the indictment of its former CEO, Jayson Penn, and three other current and former executives in June on charges of attempting to fix the price of chickens. Penn, who left Pilgrim’s in  September, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A guilty plea from Pilgrim’s will make it the first company to legally admit to a role in what prosecutors have alleged was a multiple-year effort to pass inflated chicken prices onto consumers, restaurants and supermarkets.

The plea agreement remains subject to the approval of the United States District Court of Colorado. Pilgrim’s said that it expects to record the fine as a miscellaneous expense in its Q3 financial statements.

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