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July 30, 2021

Former Pilgrim’s Pride execs, Koch Foods indicted in lengthy price-fixing case

Pilgrim's Pride had previously pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined.

By Simon Harvey

Four former executives of US poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride have been formally indicted by a federal court in Denver for their role in a conspiracy to fix broiler chicken prices in a long-running case dating back to 2012.

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  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
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Separately, the same grand jury this week returned an indictment against Illinois-based Koch Foods for its participation in the same price-fixing case.

Jason McGuire, a former EVP for prepared food sales at Greeley, Colorado-based Pilgrim’s Pride, and Timothy Stiller, who served as a general manager of fresh food services, have been indicted in the case brought by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

Wesley Tucker, a former sales executive, and Justin Gay, once a director of fresh foodservice sales, complete the four company executives charged.

The indictments allege the “defendants and co-conspirators conspired to suppress and eliminate competition” for sales of broiler chicken products sold to retailers and restaurants in the US, according to a DoJ statement.

Other executives and US chicken processors have previously been charged in the conspiracy, which started as early as 2012 and ran to at least 2019, the DoJ claimed.

William Kantola, Koch’s senior vice president, was among ten individuals indicted in October 2020, including former Pilgrim’s Pride executives Jayson Penn and Bill Lovette, as well as Roger Austin, an ex-Pilgrim’s vice president, Mikell Fries, the president of Georgia-based Claxton Poultry, and Scott Brady, a vice president at the same firm.

Claxton Poultry has again been indicted this week in a decision that supersedes the former charge.

Pilgrim’s Pride, meanwhile, had previously pleaded guilty for its role in the case and was fined US$107m in February.

Richard Powers, the acting assistant attorney general for the DoJ’s Antitrust Division, said it “remains committed to holding both individuals and companies accountable when they choose profits over following the law”.

He added: “Our investigation into criminal price-fixing of broiler chickens continues, and we will not stop until we ensure that wrongdoers are held accountable and competition is restored to this critical industry.”

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Free Report
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What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

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