FORT WORTH (CN) – Pilgrims Pride, the largest chicken processor in the United States, has filed for bankruptcy, listing $2.7 billion in debts. In its Chapter 11 filing, the company listed $3.8 billion in assets, and said it has 74.1 million shares of stock outstanding. Industry reports list the causes of Pilgrims Pride’s woes as unmanageable debt, weak demand, oversupply and high feed costs.
Based in Pittsburg, Texas, Pilgrims Pride employs 48,000 in 35 chicken processing plants and 11 food preparation plants. Its major stockholders include Lonnie A. ‘Bo’ Pilgrim and Lonnie Ken Pilgrim. Most of its sales are to restaurants and caterers. About one-fourth goes to groceries.
Pilgrims Pride has been sued repeatedly, often by its workers, in labor-related class actions. The Courthouse News database contains 81 lawsuits against the company since 2004.
The company reported last week that it expected to post a $1 billion loss for FY 2008, and delayed filing its required SEC report. Pilgrims Pride’s debt stood at $2.7 billion last week. Its creditors’ extension ran out Monday, when the company filed for Chapter 11.
Pilgrims Price became the nation’s biggest chicken company after it bought Gold Kist for $1.1 billion in 2006. It also is the second-largest chicken company in Mexico. The company told industry publications that its Mexican assets were not included in the bankruptcy filing.