In a statement issued Oct. 14, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. says it has agreed to pay a $110 million fine in a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division.
The plea agreement was made regarding the DOJ’s investigation into the sales of broiler chicken products in the U.S. and is subject to approval of the U.S. District Court of Colorado. The statement said, “Pilgrim’s and the Antitrust Division agreed to a fine of $110,524,140 for restraint of competition that affected three contracts for the sale of chicken products to one customer in the United States.”
The agreement ends the investigation into Pilgrim's Pride for its role in alleged wide-ranging schemes to fix prices in the broiler market that has ensnarled several companies in multiple lawsuits. The agreement also does not recommend a monitor, any restitution or probationary period, and provides the DOJ will not bring additional charges against Pilgrim’s Pride in this matte, all contingent upon the company complying with the terms and provisions of the agreement.
“Pilgrim’s is committed to fair and honest competition in compliance with U.S. antitrust laws,” said Fabio Sandri, Pilgrim’s CEO. “We are encouraged that today’s agreement concludes the Antitrust Division’s investigation into Pilgrim’s, providing certainty regarding this matter to our team members, suppliers, customers and shareholders.”
Previously, the DOJ has announced indictments against 10 chicken company executives alleging price-fixing and bid-rigging for broiler chicken products. Included in those indictments were Pilgrim’s Pride CEO Jayson Penn, former CEO William Lovette, and former Pilgrim’s Pride vice president Roger Austin.
On September 23, 2020, Pilgrim's Pride announced the appointment of Fabio Sandri as CEO, replacing Jayson Penn.
Pilgrim’s Pride, which produces 20% of U.S. chicken, is headquartered in Greeley, Colo., has 37,000 employees and reported $10.7 billion in 2017 revenue. JBS USA Holdings owns 78% of Pilgrim’s Pride.