Food Retail

Tyson CEO: Price-fixing lawsuits are unfounded

Tyson Foods signage is displayed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

In his first televised interview as CEO of Tyson Foods, Tom Hayes told "Squawk on the Street" that the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission's probe is based on an unfounded lawsuit.

"So the SEC is investigating, is reviewing, because there's an underlying case, an antitrust case, that is baseless," he said. "And really, plaintiffs' lawyers, grasping at straws, grasping at straws. And for us, [the antritust cases are] noise, but it'll last some time."

Speaking to CNBC in Boca Raton, Florida, for the annual Consumer Analyst Group of New York Conference, Hayes said there's still a lot of good news. The company just announced that it will make its flagship poultry products antibiotic free, allowing it to potentially boost profit margins. And investors, he says, are on board with the company's moves.

"We're the only company in the last three weeks against our major competition that's actually growing volume," Hayes told CNBC. "So they're excited about our growth story, they're really coming along with us and that's been the exciting part of our story today."

And on President Donald Trump, Hayes seemed optimistic. Tyson, he says, doesn't export a lot to Mexico. While he refused to take a stance on Trump's immigration order, he did say that Tyson has many immigrant employees and is working to provide support for them.

"We haven't taken a stance [on President Trump's immigration order]," he told "Squawk on the Street." "Our view is we want to make sure Tyson is right."

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the proper text of Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes' quote about grasping at straws.