MILWAUKEE – Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, hurt like other meat producers by volatile feed prices and slumping demand but also hobbled by an unmanageable debt load.
The Pittsburg, Texas-based company, the nation’s largest chicken producer, sought protection in a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, saying that as of Sept. 27 it had $3.75 billion in assets and $2.72 billion in debts.
Pilgrim’s Pride, which controls about 23 percent of the U.S. chicken market, will continue operating during the reorganization and will not liquidate its assets, spokesman Ray Atkinson said.
“We really believe this will help us come out a lot stronger and we expect it to be business as usual,” Atkinson said.
The chicken producer has been saddled by the debt from its $1.3 billion acquisition of rival Gold Kist Inc. in 2007 – what analysts cite as the primary cause of its large debt load.