Southeastern Grocers banners Winn-Dixie Stores and Bi-Lo Holdings have filed a federal suit against poultry industry giants Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms and Koch Foods, alleging that the companies have conspired to fix broiler chicken prices for almost 10 years, according to a published report.
The Chicago Tribune noted that the Jan. 12 Illinois Northern District Court filing came two months after a federal judge declined to dismiss a class action making similar claims against the three defendants, filed by Falconer, N.Y.-based foodservice distributor Maplevale Farms in 2016.
The Winn-Dixie/Bi-Lo suit claims that Tyson, Perdue and Koch conspired to fix the price of chickens by, among other things, “destroying” their own breeder hens and eggs to slow production, leading to a roughly 50 percent surge in the price of broiler chickens, the most popular kind of chicken meat in the United States.
Worth Sparkman, a spokesman for Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson, referred to the supermarket chains’ case as an “add-on lawsuit, adding that it doesn’t “change the fact that these claims are unfounded because we’ve not done anything wrong. We will defend our company in court.”
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based grocers allege that they have suffered injury from having to pay artificially inflated prices for chicken.
Together, Tyson, Perdue and Koch control about 90 percent of the $30 billion broiler market, the lawsuit noted.