The investigation follows allegations made in civil lawsuits, filed last year in federal court in Illinois, that several chicken processors had conspired to fix prices. The Attorney General’s office is also seeking information in relation to the Georgia Dock, a poultry pricing document used by the Georgia Department of Agriculture which was indefinitely suspended in December 2016 due to questions over its accuracy. A replacement pricing document, Georgia Premium Poultry Price Index, was introduced in January of this year.
In a statement to GlobalMeatNews regarding the investigation, Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson 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.”
Mickelson added that the Florida Attorney General’s moves were baseless. “We continue to believe the antitrust claims that prompted the Florida Attorney General to open this investigation are without merit but we are cooperating with the Florida Attorney General’s investigation.”
Pilgrim’s Pride has also been approached for comment, but has yet to respond.
Earlier this year, Tyson received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Committee regarding poultry price fixing.
Last week, Tyson reported a 1% decline in sales for the second quarter of 2017, although president and chief executive Tom Hayes remained optimistic.