Six executives of poultry processing companies have been indicted in a widening federal criminal probe into allegations of industry price-fixing.
Bill Lovette, who retired in March 2019 as CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride, was among those charged. Also targeted were a former Pilgrim’s Pride sales supervisor, a former Tyson Foods sales executive, and employees of Koch Foods, Case Farms and George’s Inc.
The arrests are the latest in an ongoing federal investigation into price-fixing in poultry. The probe has already resulted in the indictment of Jayson Penn, a former CEO who was fired by Pilgrim’s Pride last month.
The new indictments charge executives from purportedly rival companies with communicating with each other regarding prices and other decisions. For example, in 2013, after a restaurant chain asked both Pilgrim’s Price and Tyson Foods about prices for frozen chicken, a Tyson employee got in touch with execs from Pilgrim’s and Koch to discuss their response. Both Pilgrim’s and Tyson then separately told the chain they would charge a premium for supplying frozen poultry, the indictment said.
The probe seeks to cover alleged price-fixing from 2012 into early 2019.