PITTSBURG, Texas -- Pilgrim's Pride Corp. today announced plans to close its chicken processing plant in Dalton, Ga., within 60 days and consolidate production at the company's processing facility in Chattanooga, Tenn. These actions are aimed at improving the company's capacity utilization and reducing its costs.



Approximately 280 employees who work at the Dalton plant will be affected by the closing. Pilgrim's Pride will provide transition programs to employees whose positions are eliminated to assist them in securing new employment, filing for unemployment and obtaining other applicable benefits. The hatchery in Cohutta, Ga., will continue to operate. Other live production operations will also continue to function, but as a part of the Chattanooga complex or other nearby operations.



Approximately 120 independent contract growers who currently supply birds to the Dalton processing plant will be transitioned to begin supplying the company's Chattanooga plant or other nearby company facilities within approximately 90 days.



There will not be any disruption in the supply of product to retail, foodservice and industrial customers as a result of closing the Dalton facility.



"The closing of the Dalton plant is part of our plan to maximize our capacity utilization and operate more efficiently as a market-driven company," said Don Jackson, president and chief executive officer. "We will continue to look for opportunities to improve our cost structure as we reorganize the company. While the decision to eliminate jobs is always painful, we are taking decisive steps now to protect the greatest number of jobs in order to restructure our business and ultimately emerge from Chapter 11 as a stronger, more efficient competitor."



As previously announced, the Company filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions on December 1, 2008. The Chapter 11 cases are being jointly administered under case number 08-45664. The Company's operations in Mexico and certain operations in the United States were not included in the filing and continue to operate as usual outside of the Chapter 11 process.



Pilgrim's Pride Corporation employs approximately 47,000 people and operates chicken processing plants and prepared-foods facilities in 14 states, Puerto Rico and Mexico. The Company's primary distribution is through retailers and foodservice distributors.



SOURCE: Pilgrim's Pride Corporation via PR Newswire.