Pilgrim's Corp

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Pilgrim's Corp.
Type Public
Industry Meat Processing
Founded 1946
Headquarters Greeley, Colorado, United States
Key people Bill Lovette (CEO)
Products Food and Beverages
Revenue Increase US$ 8.1 billion (2012)
Net income Increase US$ 174.2 million (2012)
Employees 38,500
Parent JBS
Website www.pilgrims.com

Pilgrim's Corp., previously Pilgrim's Pride, is a former U.S.-owned company with its U.S. headquarters relocated to Greeley, Colorado.[1] As a subsidiary of the Brazilian food giant, JBS, it is the largest chicken producer in the United States and Puerto Rico and the second-largest chicken producer in Mexico. It exited bankruptcy in December 2009.

Description of firm[edit]

Bo Pilrim's head.
Pilgrim's Pride distribution center and former headquarters in Pittsburg, Texas

Pilgrim's employs about 38,000 people with sales of $8.1 billion in 2012, and has operations in 12 states, Mexico and Puerto Rico. They have the capacity to process about 36 million birds per week resulting in almost 9.5 billion pounds of live chicken annually. [1]

Pilgrim's Pride products are distributed primarily through foodservice and retail outlets.

Pilgrim's traces its origins to a feed store opened in 1946 in Pittsburg, Texas by Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim and his older brother, Aubrey. The brothers were known to give away free chicks with the bags of feed they sold, thereby expanding their business. Bo Pilgrim, wearing traditional Pilgrim dress, with a pet chicken named "Henrietta" under his arm, was featured in Pilgrim's Pride advertisements. Today, Pilgrim's Pride is vertically integrated, meaning the company has its own divisions for every process from "egg to table."

Pilgrim's Pride is a supplier of Kentucky Fried Chicken and was named its "supplier of the year" in 1997. Other customers include Wal-Mart, Publix and Wendy's. Pierce Chicken (formerly of ConAgra Foods and Hester Industries) is a division of Pilgrim's Pride. Pierce Chicken is best known for its brand-name Wing Dings, Wing Zings, and various other prepared food products.

News events in the 2000s[edit]

Pilgrim's Pride logo used until 2011.

On October 12, 2002, Pilgrim's Pride recalled 27.4 million pounds of sliced deli poultry after finding a strain of Listeria monocytogenes in the drain of one of their facilities. It was the largest food recall in the US at the time. The outbreak killed 7 people, sickened 46, and caused 3 miscarriages. [2] [3] [2]

In May 2004, Pilgrim's Pride experienced an outbreak of avian influenza in Hopkins County in northeast Texas; 24,000 breeder hens were destroyed to contain the outbreak. [4]

On July 20, 2004, PETA released a video showing cruelty to chickens at a Pilgrim's Pride plant in West Virginia.[3] The video showed Pilgrim Pride employees kicking, jumping, throwing, and spitting on live chickens.[4] Pilgrim's Pride held an investigation, fired 11 employees, including managers, and has provided ongoing animal welfare training to its work force after KFC owner Yum Brands threatened to cease purchasing from the company following the incident; none of the employees faced any criminal charges.

Pilgrim's is also is a supplier of cattle feed to various ranching operations in East Texas. The supply of cattle feed was criticized because of the alleged use of "inedible" chicken parts being used for protein content. This is a common practice in the poultry industry known as protein conversion, so as to profit from all parts of the bird. Protein conversion uses techniques to convert inedible parts of the animal, such as keratin in feathers and skin, into digestible protein to be used for livestock and pet food.

On December 4, 2006, Pilgrim's Pride announced the successful acquisition [5] of Gold Kist (formerly the third largest chicken company) for $21.00 a share. Although there was initial resistance from Gold Kist, the board members of both companies voted unanimously to combine the two companies.

On December 17, 2007, Pilgrim's Pride's CEO, O.B. Goolsby, Jr. died after suffering a stroke while on a hunting trip in South Texas with customers.[5]

On April 16, 2008, after a yearlong investigation US Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided plants in Batesville, Arkansas, Live Oak, Florida, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mount Pleasant, Texas, and Moorefield, West Virginia. Officials arrested 311 foreign national employees on suspicion of identity theft. Of these, 91 have been formally charged.[6]

Purchased by JBS S.A.[edit]

On September 17, 2009 was announced the purchase of 64% of the shares of Pilgrim's Pride by JBS USA Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of Brazilian multinational JBS S.A. the largest meat processor in the world and the largest by revenue. Currently Jbs owns 75.3% of the company.

As a result, Pilgrim's Pride closed its corporate offices in Texas and Georgia and moved its headquarters to Greeley, Colorado.[7] About 160 of the cuts occurred at the headquarters in Pittsburg, Texas and at a location in nearby Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Other positions losing jobs included sites in Atlanta, Dallas, and Broadway, Virginia.[8]


  1. ^ "Contact Us." Pilgrim's Pride. Retrieved on February 3, 2011. "Pilgrim's Corp. 1770 Promontory Circle Greeley, CO 80634."
  2. ^ Burros, Marian (October 30, 2002). "EATING WELL; Listeria Thrives in a Political Hotbed". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ McNeil Jr, Donald G. (2004-07-25). "The Nation: Gaining Ground; At Last, a Company Takes PETA Seriously". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  4. ^ "Animal cruelty taped at KFC supplier". CNN. July 20, 2004. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  5. ^ Geller, Martinne (December 17, 2007). "UPDATE 2-Pilgrim's Pride CEO dead after stroke". Reuters. 
  6. ^ http://www.ice.gov/pi/news/newsreleases/articles/080417dallas.htm
  7. ^ "Pilgrim's Pride cutting 213 jobs & Nightly Roundup." KERA. April 12, 2010. Retrieved on February 3, 2011.
  8. ^ "UPDATE 1-Pilgrim's Pride sets layoffs; integration begins." Reuters. Tuesday January 5, 2010. Retrieved on February 3, 2011.

External links[edit]