Tyson Disputes Turkey Antitrust Claims, Argues it Doesn’t Sell Whole Turkeys

Tyson Foods filed a motion on Monday in the Northern District of Illinois, along with its subsidiaries, asking the court to rule in favor of the company in a lawsuit purporting that it was involved in antitrust activities relating to sales of turkey because it reportedly does not sell whole turkey.  

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including Sandee’s Catering, Gnemi, and Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative, claimed that Agri Stats, Inc. provided information to various meat companies, which allowed them to artificially raise the price of turkey. 

Tyson, however, claimed in its accompanying memorandum of law that because it does not sell whole turkeys the claims did not apply to the company, as the only pricing data included in the allegations are connected with whole turkeys. The defendant reported that Kraft Heinz Foods Company was dismissed as a defendant in the lawsuit in October 2020 based on the same argument. 

“Although Tyson sells turkey component products through Hillshire and Hillshire’s Sara Lee brand, Plaintiffs fail to allege any anti-competitive impact on the output or prices of products that Tyson did sell, and thus fail to state a claim against Tyson,” the filing explained. Purportedly, the allegations against the company include only that it slaughters and sells turkey products, and that it participated in Agri Stats reports after it acquired Hillshire Brands in 2014. 

According to Tyson, it joined many of the defendants seeking to dismiss the two consolidated complaints against them arguing that the plaintiffs did not “plausibly allege coordinated behavior tied to the use of Agri Stats,” but the court denied their efforts while granting Kraft’s separate motion to dismiss. 

Tyson, represented by Lipe Lyons Murphy Nahrstadt & Pontikis and Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP, asked the court to enter a judgment in its favor and rule that because it does not sell whole turkeys alongside other defendants that the plaintiffs’ claims against it are not plausible.