Lawsuits Claim Nation's Largest Poultry Producers Worked Together To Jack Up Chicken Prices

Major food distributors Sysco and US Foods have filed two separate federal lawsuits against 17 major poultry producers, including Tyson, Pilgrim's Pride, Koch Foods, and Perdue Farms. According to CNN Money, the distributors claim the poultry companies (which together control 90 percent of the wholesale chicken market) restricted the supply of chickens and manipulated index prices for the industry.

"This is a case about how a group of America's chicken producers reached illegal agreements and restrained trade," the lawsuits from Sysco and US Foods said as reported by Reuters. The lawsuit claims that the chicken companies conspired from 2008 to at least late 2016. Last month Sysco and US Foods filed similar lawsuits against tuna producers for allegedly conspiring to raise prices beginning in 2004.

As news broke of the lawsuit, Tyson's shares went down 3.6 percent, Pilgrim's Pride dropped 6 percent, and shares of Sanderson Farms (another poultry producer named in the suits) fell 3.8 percent.

A Perdue Farms representative told The Daily Meal that they were currently unaware of any pending lawsuits against the company. Pilgrim's Pride told CNN Money, "Pilgrim's believes the case is completely without merit. We look forward to defending our interests through the appropriate legal process."

"Follow-on complaints like these are common in antitrust litigation," a representative for Tyson told The Daily Meal. "Such complaints do not change our position that the claims are unfounded. We will continue to vigorously defend our company."

The Daily Meal has also reached out to Koch Foods for a comment on the matter.