Pilgrim's Pride couldn't be blamed if it spread its tail feathers and did a barnyard strut. As one of the world's top chicken processors, it boasts operations in breeding, hatching, raising, processing, and distributing chicken. The company sells prepared poultry products under the Pilgrim's Pride and EatWellStayHealthy labels to retail food outlets, distributors, and foodservice operators. It sells fresh, frozen, value-added prepared chicken, and deli products. Pilgrim's Pride also produces table eggs and chicken by-products for use as animal feed. The company is majority owned by Brazil's JBS, which acquired its stake after Pilgrim's Pride emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Since its initial investment in 2009, beef and pork producer JBS has increased its share in Pilgrim's Pride to about 75%, gained through subsidiary JBS USA's acquisition of nearly 19 million shares from Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim in 2012. Pilgrim's Pride has used the money from the stock sale to pay off creditors and fund its struggling operations. Taking over Pilgrim's Pride opened the door for JBS into the US poultry market. As part of the acquisition, Pilgrim's Pride was integrated into JBS USA, which itself is controlled by the Batista family (specifically Wesley Batista and his brother Joesley Batista). The chicken processor's longtime headquarters in East Texas and a satellite corporate office in Atlanta were shuttered, and its corporate and administrative functions relocated to JBS's US headquarters in Greeley, Colorado.
The company operates its business in a dozen US states, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. (For reporting purposes, Pilgrim's Pride rolls its sales from Puerto Rico into its US business segment.) The poultry producer operates 25 fresh processing plants, eight prepared foods cook plants, one fresh processing plant in Puerto Rico, three processing plants in Mexico, and 13 distribution centers (consisting of 12 in Mexico and a single center in Puerto Rico).
Pilgrim's Pride generates 91% of its sales by processing 6.9 billion pounds of dressed chicken. Mexico accounts for the remaining 9% of revenue. The chicken processor operates feed mills, hatcheries, processing plants, and distribution centers in more than a dozen states in the US, as well as in Puerto Rico and Mexico. It also owns a small pork-raising operation, acquired during the Gold Kist acquisition.
The company exports its products to 95 countries worldwide; its key foreign export markets include Eastern Europe (including Russia), the Far East (including China), and Mexico. It is the #2 poultry company in Mexico (behind Bochco).
The poultry provider is working to expand into additional international markets to reduce its reliance on the US. In Mexico, for instance, it is expanding distribution of dark meat chicken products. It also identifies the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including Russia, and Asia Pacific as regions with promising growth potential.
Additionally, the company's strategy focuses on improving its product mix and reducing selling, general, and administrative expenses through employee layoffs and supply chain and margin improvements. It is also reviewing more drastic options for streamlining operations, including restructuring, selling assets, consolidating operations, and relocating employees.
Pilgrim's Pride has continued to struggle post-bankruptcy as it wrestles with high grain costs, an oversupply of chicken, and a difficult pricing environment. As a result, it shut down a Texas chicken-processing plant that employed 1,000 people, leaving Pilgrim's Pride with 29 poultry-processing plants worldwide, a handful of which are idle. Pilgrim's Pride also sold its commercial egg operations in Texas to Cal-Maine Foods in 2012.
Net sales for Pilgrim's Pride rose more than 9% in 2011 vs. 2010, attributed to an increase in unit sales volumes in the US due to higher demand for its products and the company's efforts to keep an eye on inventory levels during 2011. Indeed, the US accounted for 90% of the chicken processor's net sales. More US consumers chose fresh chicken (52% of sales) in 2011 vs. prepared chicken products (35% of sales). Demand for its products in Mexico generated a 17% increase in net sales. Pilgrim's Pride logged a net loss of $497 million in 2011 as compared with a net income gain of $87 million in 2010. The company points to a decrease in gross profit for the loss, spurred by the rising cost of sales across its operations in the US and Mexico.
Sales and Marketing
Pilgrim's Pride, which exports its products to customers in about 105 countries (including Mexico), counts Wal-Mart as its largest customer, accounting for 11% of sales. The company targets the foodservice industry, primarily chain restaurants and food processors such as YUM! Brands, Burger King, Wendy's, and Chick-fil-A, as well as retail customers the likes of grocery store chains Kroger and Publix and wholesale clubs Wal-Mart, Costco, and Sam's Club.