If you are suspicious of chicken, you might have good reason, as we have heard that there is something really shady going on in the fowl industry.
According to a new federal class action lawsuit, you might be getting charged 50 percent more than you should be for that big family pack of chicken you buy every week, reports Bloomberg. Sure, you might not be super surprised to learn that there's something unscrupulous going on in the meat industry of all places (hi, vegetarians), but the extent of this whole thing is pretty shocking -- Big Chicken has allegedly been killing their birds early, buying each other's products and shipping out more eggs, in order to keep supply low.
You know how supply and demand works: supply goes up, demand goes down. Demand goes up, supply goes down. So in order to keep their prices high enough for their liking, the poultry people reduce the product they put out. The $29 billion industry, which makes up around 90 percent of chicken sold in America, slashed their breeder populations and exported eggs to Mexico -- or, at least that's what the 113-page lawsuit says.
Though the price of a broiler -- a standard whole roasting chicken that you find in the store -- usually follows a boom-and-bust pattern as rising demand leads to higher prices and more production and eventually results in too many chickens. At that point, prices usually drop. But that hasn't happened since around 2008, a year after the lawsuit says that this whole elaborate chicken racket began.
Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride Corp., and Simmons Foods Inc. all say that their antitrust allegations put forth by New York food distributor Maplevale Farms are baseless and that they intend to fight them.
"We believe there are real anomalies in the broiler chicken market that have increased prices," said Joe Bruckner, a lawyer with Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP who helped bring the case.
Apparently this is not the first time something like this has happened. Just a few months ago, the dairy industry settled a similar case alleging that top dairy producers were killing off their cows to drive up the prices of milk, according to the Consumerist.
Chicken producers have previously blamed rising prices on the cost of corn and the demand for ethanol. Hopefully we'll soon see what's been going on with our chicken.