Pilgrim’s Pride strikes plea deal over U.S. chicken price-fixing charges

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(Reuters) – U.S. poultry company Pilgrim’s Pride Corp said on Wednesday it will pay a $110.5 million fine after striking a plea deal with the Justice Department over price-fixing charges on chicken products.

The guilty plea makes Pilgrim’s Pride, mostly owned by Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA, the first U.S. chicken company to reach an agreement with the government over allegations that industry executives conspired to increase chicken prices from 2012 through 2019.

Pilgrim’s Pride agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to limit competition in chicken product sales, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. A company statement said the agreement covered three chicken contracts with one U.S. customer.

As part of the deal, the department’s Antitrust Division will not bring more charges against Pilgrim’s Pride in the case, the statement said. Shares jumped 6.1% to $16.63 on Wednesday afternoon.

“We are encouraged that today’s agreement concludes the Antitrust Division’s investigation into Pilgrim’s,” Chief Executive Officer Fabio Sandri said.

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