If you’ve ever gone into a grocery store and were shocked at the high prices of chicken, it wasn’t just your imagination or inflation changing the prices. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleges in a new lawsuit that chicken producers purposefully engaged in illegal tactics to raise chicken prices- and their profits.
Who is involved in the lawsuit?
The lawsuit, filed on October 25, alleges that some of the most recognized chicken producers, such as Tyson Foods, Sanderson Farms, Foster Farms, Peco Foods, and 15 other household name brands have been slowly raising chicken prices for years. These companies allegedly engaged in tactics to lower supply, therefore increasing demand and raising prices at the expense of millions of Americans.
Specific tactics these companies allegedly used include restraining production, manipulating price indices, rigging bids, and exchanging highly sensitive competitive information with one another. They even engaged in culling breeder flocks. The term “culling” means removing animals, in this case chickens, purposefully from a flock because they are no longer needed. However, chicken meat and groceries were desperately needed during the first instance these chicken producers decided to increase costs- during the 2008 market crash.
Who was affected?
While the country was reeling in the effects of the 2008 economic meltdown, Ferguson alleges these 19 companies continued their shady business practices to cut down on supply and increase costs, violating the Washingtons state consumer protection and anti-trust laws (Relating to legislation preventing or controlling trusts or other monopolies, with the intention of promoting competition in business.)
It isn’t just Washington families that suffered from this so-called chicken conspiracy. These companies have already had to pay settlements to other states nationwide. However, Washington was not eligible to receive payments, hence Ferguson’s lawsuit being filed that now seeks restitution for millions of Washington families. In addition, businesses such as schools, private pre-schools, and nearly everyone who ever bought broiler chicken and chicken products within Washington were all victims of the price hikes.
Ferguson said, “This conspiracy cost middle-class and low-income Washington families more money to put food on their table. I will hold these companies accountable for the profits they illegally made off the backs of hardworking Washington families.”