Tyson Foods opens new US$425m Tennessee poultry complex amid unending price-fixing allegations

US – Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, has officially inaugurated its new poultry complex in Humboldt, Tennessee, following a total investment of US$425 million.

Located within the Gibson County Industrial Park , the site consists of a processing plant, feed mill and hatchery, and represents Tyson Foods’ biggest investment in Tennessee.

The plant is expected to start production later this month and will produce pre-packaged trays of fresh chicken for retail grocery stores nationwide.

According to Tyson Foods, several hundred workers have been hired so far and the company expected to hire about 1,500 workers by 2023.

 Donnie King, chief operating officer and group president of poultry for Tyson Foods, said: “The demand for Tyson chicken products continues to grow and this plant will help us meet the needs of our customers and consumers.”

Meanwhile, the company’s new feed mill will employ 30 staff members and supply feed to approximately 56 local poultry farmers, producing 14,000 tons a week at full capacity.

 The Humboldt hatchery will also employ 30 people and will provide chicks for local poultry farmers who supply broiler chickens to Tyson Foods.

“We are incredibly proud to make western Tennessee the home of our first new poultry facility in 25 years and look forward to being part of the community and supporting the local economy,” said John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer and member of the Tyson Family.

Unending price fixing lawsuits

Even with its expansion, Tyson Foods can’t seem to shake off the price fixing allegations that have been following it for some time now.

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In January 2021, Food Business News reported that Tyson Foods, Inc. had reached an agreement in the broiler chicken antitrust civil price-fixing litigation brought against the company, as well as many other poultry processors, and was going to pay US$221.5 million.

2 months after that price fixing suit was settled, food distributor Sysco filed a new law suit on March 10, accusing Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Smithfield Foods, Hormel Foods and other pork processors of price fixing.

Sysco said their actions lead to pork price competition that has been “restrained, suppressed, and/or eliminated in the United States” and caused the food distributor to pay more than it otherwise would have for the meat.

Even before the dust has settled on the Sysco suit, quick service restaurant chain McDonald’s has released a memo to its franchisees saying that it intends to take steps to recover potentially excessive charges from chicken producers, notably Tyson Foods, dating between January 2008 and early 2019.

“McDonald’s intends to take certain steps it believes are necessary to try to recover some of the damages that McDonald’s may have experienced,” the company said in the message.

In addition, the company told operators that it is looking at similar situations over pork and beef producers and could seek damages in those situations, too.

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