On Wednesday, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation announced that it entered a plea agreement with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to resolve claims against individuals in the company, who were being investigated for antitrust activity in the broiler chicken industry. The announcement came a week after the DOJ announced that it was adding six additional people to the investigation, some of which were associated with Pilgrim’s Pride.
The company agreed to a fine of $110,524,140 to resolve charges that the individuals had restrained competition in the broiler chicken industry. The agreement included that the DOJ Antitrust Division will not bring other charges against the company for this activity if Pilgrim’s Pride complies with the agreement. The company said it “expects to record the fine as a miscellaneous expense” in third quarter financial statements for this year.
“Pilgrim’s is committed to fair and honest competition in compliance with U.S. antitrust laws,” said Fabio Sandri, Pilgrim’s CEO. “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.”
The plea agreement is still subject to the approval of the District of Colorado, where a criminal lawsuit against the parties is being heard. The company is also involved in lawsuits filed by restaurants, chicken growers, and grocers, who claim damages from the alleged antitrust activity in the chicken industry. The company along with other companies in the chicken processing industry have been repeatedly accused of fixing the price for chickens and reducing it below the market value. Pilgrim’s Pride also received a lawsuit from its investors after the DOJ antitrust lawsuit was filed.