SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Tyson Foods Inc. said the company is cooperating with a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into price fixing in the broiler chicken industry.

“Tyson Foods is committed to competing vigorously, honestly and in compliance with the letter and the spirit of the antitrust laws and respects the important role that the Department of Justice plays in enforcing these laws,” the company said. “On April 26, 2019, Tyson was served with a grand jury subpoena from the Antitrust Division of the DOJ concerning a criminal antitrust investigation into the broiler chicken industry. Tyson uncovered information in connection with that investigation, which we immediately self-reported to the DOJ.  

“Tyson took appropriate actions to address the internal issues and has been fully cooperating with the DOJ as part of its application for leniency under the DOJ’s Corporate Leniency Program. A formal grant of leniency will mean that neither the company nor any of its employees will face criminal fines, jail time or prosecution. Our swift and decisive actions demonstrate our steadfast commitment to treating suppliers, customers and partners with integrity and to fostering a free and fair competitive environment that not only benefits consumers but makes Tyson Foods better.”

The Antitrust Division’s Leniency Program “…is its most important investigative tool for detecting cartel activity,” according to the agency.

A federal grand jury in the US District Court in Denver indicted four executives at leading poultry companies for their alleged role in a conspiracy to fix prices for broiler chickens. No one from Tyson Foods was named in the indictment which included Jayson Penn, chief executive officer of Pilgrim’s Pride; Roger Austin, vice president of fresh foodservice at Pilgrim’s; Mikell Fries, president of Claxton Poultry; and Scott Brady, vice president of national accounts at Claxton Poultry.

All four men entered not-guilty pleas.

Most recently, DOJ issued subpoenas to Tyson, JBS SA, Cargill and National Beef Inc. as part of a separate investigation into anticompetitive activity in the beef industry. The companies also were named in a lawsuit accusing the four processors of manipulating prices for beef by restricting supplies of cattle sent to slaughter. Tyson declined to comment on the matter.