U. S. chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. has idled plants and is streamlining operations in hopes of exiting from bankruptcy protection by the end of 2009, CEO Don Jackson told Reuters on Feb. 27.
The company filed for bankruptcy protection in December after struggling for nearly a year with high feed costs and low meat prices.
Jackson became president and chief executive in January, replacing Clint Rivers, who resigned in December.
Earlier on Friday, the company said it was idling three of its 32 U. S. chicken processing plants. The three plants produce chicken that is sold on the open market and is not for specific customers such as retail or restaurant outlets.
Jackson said it was possible a portion of the Farmerville, Louisiana, plant could re-open, but not for a year or more. Also to be idled are plants in El Dorado, Arkansas, and Douglas, Georgia. The plants employ about 3,000 workers.
Idling the three plants will reduce the company’s chicken production nine to 10 per cent. Approximately 430 independent growers who supply the plants with chickens will be affected.
There has been speculation that Pilgrim’s Pride would sell some of its facilities as it tries to reorganize. Jackson said on Friday there has been little buyer interest.
“In terms of our core assets, and I’m talking about chicken-processing assets, there has been very little interest,” he said. “What little interest there has been has literally been pennies on the dollar. It would not appear to be in our best interest to give somebody a cost of entry with which we could not compete.”