Consumers Awarded $40 Million for Manipulated Chicken, Tuna Prices

By: Lauren | Published: Dec 27, 2023

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is known for fighting tooth and nail for his constituents, and once again, he got them the justice they deserved.

After a lengthy lawsuit, almost 20 of the primary chicken and tuna producers will be forced to pay Washington residents a total of $40.6 million for their mistakes, and Ferguson can’t wait to pass out the checks.

Ferguson Filed the Chicken Suit in 2021

In 2021, Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit calling out 19 of the biggest chicken producers, alleging that they were inflating and manipulating prices in order to gouge the American people.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson at event

Source: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

These 19 companies make up 95% of the country’s chicken sales, and Ferguson claimed they were working with completely illegal secret messages and coordinated contracts to increase the cost of chicken.

Why This Issue Is So Important

When he filed the lawsuit, Ferguson told the world, “If you’ve eaten chicken in the last decade, this conspiracy touched your wallet.”

Tyson brand chicken drumsticks at the grocery store

Source: Ramin Talaie/Corbis/Getty Images

He continued, “This conspiracy cost middle-class and low-income Washington families more money to put food on their table. I will hold these companies accountable for the profits they illegally made off the backs of hardworking Washington families.”

A Decade-Long Crime

When AG Ferguson investigated the 19 chicken production companies in question, he realized that their illegal manipulation of prices wasn’t a one-time deal.

Man feeding chickens at a chicken farm

Source: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

In fact, as he said to the residents of Washington, the deception has been going on for almost 10 years, costing some families hundreds of dollars over time.

Companies Finally Had to Pay Up

Finally, on Dec. 6, 2023, the attorney general’s office announced that they won the suit and received $35.5 million from companies such as Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods.

Screenshot of the X homepage for Perdue Chicken

Source: @PerdueChicken/X

However, Ferguson didn’t stop there; he is now going up against the four remaining companies who have yet to pay, including Foster Farms and Wayne-Sanderson Farms.

Taking on Tuna

The year before Ferguson filed his suit against the chicken industry, he filed another against some of the biggest names in canned tuna.

Promotional poster for StarKist tuna pouches

Source: @StarkistCharlie/X

Ferguson claimed in this suit that executives within companies such as StarKist, Chicken of the Sea, and Bumble Bee Tuna had been illegally exchanging company information to deceive the market price.


Big Tuna Was Found Guilty

During the court proceedings, it came to light that the Bumble Bee Tuna CEO, Christopher Lischewski, told other major tuna companies plainly that the cost of canned tuna needed to be fixed, i.e., raised.

Stacks of canned tuna

Source: Richard Levine/Corbis/Getty Images

He, as well as his company and others, including StarKist and Chicken of the Sea, were found guilty and forced to pay $100,000, $4.1 million, and $500,000, respectively.


Ferguson Has Won Washington State Residents a Total of $40.6 Million

Although Ferguson is still fighting against four remaining chicken distributors, he has already collected $40.6 million in total from the three tuna companies and 15 other chicken brands.

Canned meat in the grocery store with discounted price tags

Source: James Leynse/Corbis/Getty Images

And he already has a plan in place for how and when his office will distribute the resources to the citizens of Washington.


402,200 Washington Households Should Expect a Check

Of course, it’s essentially impossible to prove how much chicken or tuna each Washington state resident purchased in the past decade.

Screenshot of a post from the Washington Attorney General’s office

Source: @AGOWA/X

So, instead, Attorney General Bob Ferguson has decided to send checks to 402,200 low-income houses throughout the state.


How Much Will These Washington Residents Get?

While $40.6 million may seem like a lot of money, it still needs to be divided into 402,200 homes.

Screenshot of a post from the Washington Attorney General’s office

Source: @AGOWA/X

Ferguson and his office have decided that single-person families will receive $50 each, and multi-person households will get a check for $120.


1.2 Million Washingtonians Will Get a Check

Including those living in the multi-family households, this means that more than 1.2 million residents of Washington will get a check by the end of 2023.

Man shopping in the tuna fish aisle of a grocery store

Source: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

And although it’s not thousands of dollars, Ferguson said, “The holiday season puts a financial strain on families, and we hope Washingtonians are helped by these checks.”


Highlighting Corporate Greed

This story is, of course, about Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the residents of Washington, but more than that, it’s really about the injustice of corporate greed.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson addresses a crowd

Source: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Ferguson said, “We cannot have a free market when corporate titans are able to tip the scales to their own bank accounts. Washingtonians lost millions as a result of this corporate greed. I intend to get that back for them.”