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Weekly poultry digest: Tyson settles price fixing cases

Tyson Foods Inc settles in price fixing cases and the USDA suggests that poultry supplies could get tighter in 2021.

22 January 2021, at 10:39am

Tyson settles more lawsuits involving chicken price-fixing allegations

Tyson Foods Inc. said it would pay $221.5 million to settle price fixing litigation with two additional groups of plaintiffs who accuse the company of illegally conspiring to inflate chicken prices. This comes just over a week after Tyson agreed to settle related antitrust claims by purchasers who bought chickens directly from the company. Courts must still approve the latest settlement. The company (and others in the chicken industry) faces numerous lawsuits involving restaurants, supermarkets, food distributors and consumers who accuse chicken producers of having conspired since 2008 to inflate chicken prices.

Whole chickens in a refrigerated grocery case
Tyson was accused of conspiring to inflate chicken prices

USDA’s Poultry Outlook for 2021

USDA this week reported production of poultry is anticipated to grow in 2021 compared with last year. However, trade dynamics will likely affect meat available to US consumers next year. Availability is the disappearance on the domestic market of what remains after exports and ending stocks are subtracted from the sum of production, beginning stocks, and imports.

Availability of poultry is expected to decrease from last year, largely reflecting greater exports and higher ending stocks of chicken meat and turkey. Total poultry disappearance is expected to decrease by less than 1 percent, to 113 pounds per person. In contrast, red meat and poultry disappearance in 2021 will likely exceed the 5-year average by more than 2 percent and almost 4 percent, respectively.

Women cutting poultry carcasses into thighs and legs
The USDA expects supplies of chicken meat to decrease in the US during 2021

Poultry and eggs

The 2020 fourth-quarter broiler production forecast was decreased on recent slaughter data, while 2021 production was lowered on higher forecast feed costs. The fourth-quarter broiler export forecast was increased on recent trade data. The 2021 first-quarter price forecast was lowered on recent prices, while the second-half price forecast was increased on expectations for tighter supplies.

The 2021 table egg production forecast was decreased on higher feed costs, while the 2020 fourth-quarter export forecast was lowered on recent trade data. The 2021 egg price forecast was increased on expectations for tighter supplies. Turkey production forecasts were revised down in the fourth quarter of 2020 and all quarters of 2021. The turkey export forecast was revised down to 165 million pounds in the fourth quarter on weaker November exports. Due to expectations of rising feed costs and stagnant production growth, turkey price forecasts were increased in 2021.

Read Jim Wyckoff's analysis of the global hog industry on The Pig Site and see his latest updates on the beef and dairy industry on The Cattle Site.