Springdale-based Tyson Foods will pay $221.5 million to settle all claims in antitrust litigation over decades-long collusion and price-fixing of broiler chicken. This is the largest settlement of all the involved poultry companies reporting thus far.
Tyson first said it had reached a settlement last week, but the terms of the deal were not then disclosed. Tyson said the settlement is in the best interest of shareholders and it does not constitute an admission of liability. In a federal filing early Wednesday (Jan. 20), Tyson said the $221.5 million settlement will be reflected in its first quarter earnings to be released in early February and it retires all outstanding claims brought by the classes.
The litigation has dragged on for four years before culminating in the federal antitrust civil suit that involved multiple companies including Pilgrim’s Pride and Springdale-based George’s Inc. sued by their customers such as Chick-fil-A, Walmart and Kroger alleging conspiracy to inflate chicken prices by working together to restrict production from 2008 through 2016.
Tyson said it would fight the charges and defend its innocence. But as the investigation continued Tyson self-reported improprieties within its organization, noting the instigators were no longer employed by Tyson. The U.S.Justice Department said Tyson Foods would receive leniency accommodations for the self-report.
Former Tyson Foods employee Timothy Mulreinin was one of 10 poultry executives indicted on federal antitrust charges in October. Pilgrim’s Pride, who had two top executives indicted in the suit, settled its claims for $75 million last week. All 10 executives had pleaded not guilty.
Perdue Farms and Sanderson Farms have yet to disclose any settlements they have made in the case. Some smaller private companies have settled claims.