Pilgrim’s Pride has welcomed a court of appeals ruling clearing the poultry processor of allegations that it manipulated the market price of poultry supplies in 2009.

“The recent ruling from the US Court of Appeals 5th Circuit affirms that our decision to reduce production in May 2009 was a legitimate, rational response to the market conditions at that time,” Pilgrim’s president and CEO Bill Lovette told just-food.

“We in no way made any attempt to illegally manipulate or control poultry prices and we are pleased the Court agreed with our position. Pilgrim’s takes great pride in the relationship we enjoy with the family farmers who raise and provide care for our chickens.”

The court of appeals overturned a ruling awarding a group of poultry growers damages in excess of US$25m.

A panel of two judges found that Pilgrim’s 2009 move to reduce production levels of unprofitable chicken was a prudent response to market conditions. The company’s oversupply had been a factor in driving market prices for end-products down, the court found.