Florida AG broadens poultry industry antitrust probe

by Erica Shaffer
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Tyson Foods and Pilgrim's Pride join Sanderson Farms in receipt of civil investigative notice from Florida AG.
 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Florida’s attorney general broadened its investigation into price-fixing in the chicken industry by including Tyson Foods Inc. and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. in a probe of “anticompetitive conduct.”

In recent securities filings, Tyson Foods stated that on March 1 the company received a civil investigative demand (CID) from the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Legal Affairs of the State of Florida. “The CID requests information primarily related to possible anticompetitive conduct in connection with the Georgia Dock, a chicken products pricing index formerly published by the Georgia Department of Agriculture,” the documents stated. “We are cooperating with the Attorney General’s office.”

In a statement, the company said: “Because many statutes charge State Attorney General’s with the responsibility to protect the interests of consumers in their states, it’s not uncommon to see state AGs investigate antitrust allegations made in civil cases that seek to collect damages on behalf of consumers within their states.

“The Florida Attorney General’s office has opened such an investigation by serving a request for documents upon several of the poultry companies named in the antitrust cases pending in federal court in Chicago. Tyson was included in the group of defendants in that case that received a request for documents. We continue to believe the antitrust claims that prompted the Florida AG to open this investigation are without merit but we are cooperating with the Florida AG’s investigation. “

Laurel, Mississippi-based Sanderson Farms Inc. announced in securities documents that the company had received a similar notice on Feb. 21.

“The company intends to cooperate fully with the investigative demand,” Sanderson said in the filing. “Among other things, the demand seeks information related to the Georgia Dock Index and other information on poultry and poultry products published by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and its Poultry Market News division.”

In February, the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture stopped publishing the Georgia Premium Poultry Pricing Index (GPPPI), which the agency developed to replace the Georgia Dock. The agency ceased efforts to publish the GPPPI due to a lack of available data.

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