OAKWOOD, GA. – On Oct. 25, a federal jury determined that Sanderson Farms did not participate in a supply reduction conspiracy with other poultry producers between 2008 and 2012.
The six-week antitrust trial accused the poultry processor of working with major players like Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms, Pilgrim’s Pride and many others to reduce the poultry supply chain.
The accusations were prior to the 2022 acquisition of Sanderson Farms by Wayne Farms to form Wayne-Sanderson Farms.
Still, the evidence presented at the recent trial did not prove a conspiracy existed.
“We are pleased that, after a full and fair trial, the jury has rendered a unanimous verdict in favor of Sanderson Farms on all counts,” said Jeremy Kilburn, chief legal and compliance officer at Wayne-Sanderson Farms. “The evidence presented over the last six weeks is clear: Sanderson Farms and the broiler industry did not conspire to produce less chicken.”
Kilburn stated that during and after the period of the plaintiffs’ alleged supply conspiracy, Sanderson built more plants than the rest of the industry combined and grew more than any of its competitors before that.
“In a time of industry crisis, during which several major chicken producers went bankrupt, Sanderson Farms made independent business decisions to reduce its losses — as any rational business would,” Kilburn added. “Today’s verdict vindicates Sanderson Farms and shows that the Plaintiffs’ case ignored fundamental truths about Sanderson Farms and the nature of the chicken industry.”
The company noted that Wayne Farms’ past conduct was not an issue at this trial since US District Court Judge Thomas M. Durkin ruled in the company’s favor during summary judgment in June.
Several plaintiffs in recent years accused poultry processors of conspiring and coordinating production dating back to 2008.
In July, Durkin decided to narrow the timeframe for price-fixing allegations to between 2008-2009 and 2011-2012.
House of Raeford Farms Inc. agreed to pay $27.5 million, and Koch Foods Inc. agreed to pay $47.5 million in October in the consolidated antitrust lawsuit for alleged conspiring to fix broiler chicken prices.