Exectutives at 2 chicken processors indicted on price fixing charges

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The CEO of one of the largest poultry processors has been indicted on charges of price-fixing, the Wall Street Journal (paywall) reported.

Indicted was the chief executive of Pilgrim’s Pride, a Colorado-based processor and present and former executives of both Pilgrim’s Pride and Claxton, a Georgia poultry processor.

Neither of the companies has operations on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Large buyers of poultry have accused poultry processors, including Salisbury, MD based Perdue of fixing prices. Perdue and other producers have denied the claims.

The legal actions took on added importance when the Justice Department opted to intervene in the case.

Critics have said the poultry industry is known being close-knit with executives moving between companies.

The industry has been struggling, thanks to shifting markets and seeing workers testing positive for coronavirus at its processing plants.

Delaware, for a time had a Centers for Disease Control and prevention team working on issues that included limiting the spread of the virus and testing.

Perdue and other industry giants struggled with getting the chicken to store shelves, thanks to heavy buying and disrupted supply chains as restaurants and food service operations closed.

Korean-owned processor Allen Harim, at one point, ordered growers to kill chickens, due to plants running far below capacity, apparently due to coronavirus cases.

Of late, state officials have reported that the percentage of COVID-19 cases among poultry workers has dropped sharply, with relatively few hospitalizations.

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