Pilgrim's Pride struggles with feed prices

Pilgrim's Pride, the largest chicken producer in the US, has posted a significant net loss in its 3rd quarter earnings, which it says is a result of rising feed costs.

The company reported a net loss from continuing operations of $48.3 mln on net sales of $2.2 bln for the quarter which ended 28 June, compared to a net profit of $63.3 mln on total sales of $2.1 bln during the same quarter in 2007.

"Like other producers, we simply have not been able to keep pace with the extreme price volatility in the grain markets," said Pilgrim's Pride president and CEO Clint Rivers.

Total feed ingredient costs in the quarter rose $266 mln (41%) compared to 2007, estimating that its total feed ingredient costs for fiscal 2008 will rise $900 mln.

"Over the past six months, we have made some very tough, but necessary, decisions to position our company as a stronger, more efficient competitor," said Rivers, but adding that at present there are no further plans consolidate or sell any other facilities. He did acknowledge, however, that such decisions may be necessary in the future.

In March the company axed 1,100 jobs and closed seven US facilities.