Pilgrim's Pride

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Pilgrim's Pride Corporation
S&P 400 component
IndustryMeat processing
Key people
Jayson Penn (CEO)
ProductsFood and beverages
RevenueIncrease US$ 10.7 billion (2017)
Increase US$ 718.1 million (2017)
OwnerJBS USA [1]
Number of employees
SubsidiariesMoy Park

Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, is a Brazilian-owned, multi-national food company, currently one of the largest chicken producers in the United States and Puerto Rico and the second-largest chicken producer in Mexico. It exited bankruptcy in December 2009 and relocated its U.S. headquarters to Greeley, Colorado, in 2011.[2] It is majority-owned by JBS S.A.. Pilgrim's Pride purchased Gold N'Plump for $350 million in late November 2016.

Description of firm[edit]

Pilgrim's Pride is a multi-national corporation, based in Brazil, and 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.[3]

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. They were known to give away free chicks with the bags of feed they sold, thereby expanding their business. Bo, wearing traditional Pilgrim garb, with a pet chicken named "Henrietta" under his arm, was featured in Pilgrim's Pride advertisements. He became the president of the company after Aubrey died of a heart attack in 1966.[4] 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 Walmart, Publix, and Wendy's. By 2012, Pilgrim's was the exclusive rotisserie chicken supplier for Costco, supplying 50 million 3-pound marinated chickens, ready to be placed into a rotisserie.[5]

News events in the 2000s/2010s[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. [1] [2] [6]

In 2003, Pilgrim's Pride acquired Pierce Chicken (formerly of ConAgra Foods and Hester Industries). Pierce Chicken is best known for its brand-name Wing Dings, Wing Zings, and various other prepared food products.[7]

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. [3]

On July 20, 2004, PETA released a video showing cruelty to chickens at a Pilgrim's Pride plant in West Virginia.[8] The video showed Pilgrim Pride employees kicking, jumping, throwing, and spitting on live chickens.[9] 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 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 [4] 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.[10]

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.[11]

The Pilgrim's Pride feed mill in Pittsburg, Texas, in August 2015

On May 27, 2014, the company announced a $6.4 billion cash and debt offer to acquire all the shares in Hillshire Brands. A rival bid from Tyson Foods followed two days later. On June 9, 2014, the company announced it was withdrawing its bid for Hillshire after Tyson Foods had increased its offer to $8.55 billion.[12]

On July 21, 2017, the company's co-founder, Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim, died at the age of 89.[13]

Purchase by JBS S.A.[edit]

On September 17, 2009, JBS USA Holdings, Inc. announced the purchase of 64% of the shares of Pilgrim's Pride. JBS USA Holdings, Inc. is a subsidiary of Brazilian multinational JBS S.A., the largest meat processor in the world, and the largest by revenue. Currently JBS USA Holdings, Inc. owns 78.5% of the company.

As a result, Pilgrim's Pride closed its corporate offices in Texas and Georgia and moved its headquarters to Greeley, Colorado.[14] This move caused the former headquarters in Pittsburg, Texas, and a location in nearby Mt. Pleasant, Texas, to cut employment by a total of 160 people. Other locations which lost jobs included sites in Atlanta, Dallas, and Broadway, Virginia.[15][16]


  1. ^ "Pilgrim's Pride Proxy Statement". Pilgrims.com. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "Contact Us." Pilgrim's Pride. Retrieved on February 3, 2011. "Pilgrim's Corp. 1770 Promontory Circle Greeley, CO 80634."
  3. ^ http://www.pilgrims.com/company/
  4. ^ "About Us - Pilgrim's". www.Pilgrims.com. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  5. ^ "The bird that goes around, stays around". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-01-31. Costco uses a single producer, Pilgrim’s Pride, which marinates via injection, trusses and packs 10 birds to a case. The chickens look like pale, plump ghosts as they get threaded onto long rods that fit in ultra-modern, digital-display Inferno 4000 rotisserie ovens.
  6. ^ Burros, Marian (October 30, 2002). "EATING WELL; Listeria Thrives in a Political Hotbed". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  7. ^ "ConAgra Sells Poultry Business". LivestockWeekly.com. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Animal cruelty taped at KFC supplier". CNN. July 20, 2004. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  10. ^ Geller, Martinne (December 17, 2007). "UPDATE 2-Pilgrim's Pride CEO dead after stroke". Reuters.
  11. ^ "pi news newsreleases articles 080417dallas - Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Search Results". www.ICE.gov. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  12. ^ "Tyson Foods wins battle to buy Hillshire Brands". The Boston Journal. May 29, 2014. Archived from the original on May 29, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Lonnie ‘Bo’ Pilgrim, poultry baron and prominent Texas political donor, dies at 89, by Harrison Smith, in the Washington Post; published July 25, 2017; retrieved August 2, 2017
  14. ^ "Pilgrim's Pride cutting 213 jobs & Nightly Roundup." KERA. April 12, 2010. Retrieved on February 3, 2011.
  15. ^ "UPDATE 1-Pilgrim's Pride sets layoffs; integration begins." Reuters. Tuesday January 5, 2010. Retrieved on February 3, 2011.
  16. ^ "Chickens". Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. 17 May 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2015..

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