Turkey price-fixing lawsuit filed

Butterball, Tyson Foods, Perdue, Prestage and Cooper Farms among several U.S. turkey producers named in lawsuit.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

July 25, 2023

2 Min Read
Wooden gavel next to book on pile of money

Carina Ventures, a subsidiary of litigation funder Burford Capital, recently filed a lawsuit, alleging major U.S. turkey companies conspired to fix prices. According to Reuters, Sysco was, up until a few weeks ago, a plaintiff in antitrust cases against pork, beef, and chicken producers. Since then, Sysco has signed away rights to Carina Ventures in those cases as part of a settlement with Burford.

The court filing in the turkey lawsuit alleges that defendants Butterball, Cargill, Cooper Farms, Farbest Foods, Foster Farms, Hormel Foods Corporation, House of Raeford Farms, Perdue, Prestage, and Tyson Foods “fixed, raised, stabilized, or maintained” the prices of turkeys sold in the U.S. beginning around 2008 and continuing at least through 2016. This, Carina Ventures, alleges was carried out through market reports provide by data analytics firm Agri Stats and its subsidiary Express Markets Inc.

“On a regular basis, Agri Stats distributed these detailed comparative reports, which contained current and forward-looking information, to its subscribers in the turkey industry,” the filing said. “The type of information available in these reports is not the type of information that competitors would provide each other in a normal, competitive market. Through its reports, Agri Stats intentionally shared defendants’ competitively sensitive supply and pricing data with other defendants.”

Coordinated supply reductions were carried out in and around 2008–2009 and again in and around 2012– 2013, which were followed by periods of raising prices and maintaining supply restraints in and around 2010–2011 and 2014–2015, respectively, Carina Ventures alleges.

The latest price-fixing lawsuit, this time targeting the turkey industry, stems from a dispute between Sysco and Burford over its investment of $140 million in Sysco's antitrust claims, according to Reuters.

Sysco had said Burford was blocking the ability of Sysco to settle claims, while Burford said Sysco was preparing to settle for amounts that it considered were too low. Further, Burford said Sysco was violating its funding agreement by not filing a lawsuit over turkey industry prices, Reuters reported.

The filing of the turkey price-fixing lawsuit follows recent news from Agri Stats that it had been granted motion for summary judgment in broiler price-fixing litigation. The court found that Agri Stats’ benchmarking reports are not evidence of a conspiracy among Agri Stats and broiler chicken producers to reduce output or increase price.

The decision marks an important victory for the company and the industry’s use of benchmarking reports to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of broiler chicken production in the United States, the firm said.

“Agri Stats welcomes Judge Durkin’s ruling because it confirms what the industry has known for a long time: Agri Stats benchmarking reports increase competition and benefits consumers,” said Brian Snyder, Agri Stats president. “Agri Stats looks forward to the end of the baseless antitrust lawsuits against the company and the industry, so that we can focus on our core mission of helping to improve efficiency in the protein industry for our subscribers.”


About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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