Washington Households to Receive Checks After Big Chicken, Tuna Firms Found Guilty of Price-Fixing

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced on Tuesday that approximately 402,200 households, comprising 1.2 million residents, will receive financial restitution for falling victim to price-fixing conspiracies in the chicken and tuna industries. The restitution, totaling $40.6 million, targets households with incomes at or below 175% of the federal poverty level.

Ferguson, currently a gubernatorial candidate for 2024, stated that the restitution checks aim to assist those “least able to afford the harm caused by the price-fixing schemes.” Single-person households will receive $50, while multi-person households are eligible for $120. The first round of checks has already been mailed, with the remaining to be dispatched before December 31.

The financial compensation comes after Ferguson’s office recovered $35.5 million from resolutions with 15 out of 19 broiler chicken producers implicated in a 2021 price-fixing lawsuit. These producers represent about 95% of broiler chickens sold in the U.S., used in various products from grocery store chicken breasts to fast-food items like nuggets and sandwiches.

Ferguson accused all 19 chicken producers of engaging in a coordinated effort to inflate and manipulate prices, violating Washington state antitrust laws since at least 2008. The Attorney General’s investigation revealed a wide-ranging conspiracy involving the exchange of competitively sensitive information, signals during investor calls, and direct coordination among industry players.

The restitution also includes more than $5.1 million recovered in cases against major tuna companies. StarKist, Chicken of the Sea, former Bumble Bee Tuna CEO Christopher Lischewski, and sanctions against Dongwon, StarKist’s parent company, contributed to this amount.

“Executives at the three tuna companies engaged in covert communications, including calls, texts, private emails, and face-to-face meetings at pre-arranged locations to avoid detection, facilitating the exchange of internal company policies and data,” Ferguson’s office stated.

The trial against the remaining three chicken producers—Foster Farms, Wayne-Sanderson Farms, and House of Raeford Farms—is scheduled for October, emphasizing the ongoing efforts to hold accountable those involved in the alleged price-fixing conspiracies.

In response to the announcement, Ferguson acknowledged the financial strain on families during the holiday season and expressed hope that the restitution checks would provide relief to affected Washingtonians. The restitution serves not only as a measure to rectify the financial harm caused by the price-fixing but also as a deterrent against similar anticompetitive practices in the future.

Information for this briefing was found via Komo News and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

Leave a Reply