Pilgrim’s Pride Pleads Guilty to Price-Fixing and Is Sentenced to $108 Million Fine

Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the nation’s largest producers of broiler chicken products, has pled guilty to one count of violating the Sherman Act. In its plea agreement with the Department of Justice, it admits that between 2012 and 2017, it participated in a conspiracy with at least one other competitor to rig bids and fix prices on broiler chicken products sold throughout the United States. It admits, specifically, that its price-fixing conduct affected prices on more than $361 million of sales to Kentucky Fried Chicken. 

The guilty plea comes after the Department of Justice indicted 10 executives of several competing poultry producers last fall, each of whom has pled not guilty. Pilgrim’s Pride is the first company to strike a deal with the Department of Justice and, as part of its plea agreement, promises its continuing cooperation with the government’s case. In addition to its cooperation, the Colorado federal court overseeing the case ordered Pilgrim’s Pride to pay a $108 million criminal fine.       

News of the guilty plea arrived on the same day that the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois preliminarily approved a proposed settlement, announced a month earlier, resolving similar allegations against Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson Foods made by a direct purchaser class. Under the settlement, Pilgrim’s Pride will pay direct purchasers $75 million and Tyson Foods will pay $80 million. As with Pilgrim’s Pride’s plea agreement with the Department of Justice, the settlement requires the full cooperation of the settling defendants in the case against their co-conspirators. 

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About Raymond N. Barto

Raymond N. Barto's practice is focused on antitrust litigation. Ray is a senior associate in the firm's New York office.Prior to joining F&F, Ray was an associate at a prominent New York City law firm where he represented consumers, shareholders, and employees in class action cases that involved consumer fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and ERISA.While at Brooklyn Law School, Ray served as an Articles Editor for the Brooklyn Law Review. As well, Ray served as an intern to the Honorable Judge William Pauley III of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York; the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York; the litigation department for Marsh & McLennan Companies; and the Kings County District Attorney's Office.

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