Poultry processorTownsends, Inc., Georgetown, Del., said that it and four wholly owned subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Officials said they expect to continue operations during the bankruptcy process while Townsends explores strategic alternatives.

"Since 2008, our company has been impacted by record high feed-ingredient costs on the one hand and low chicken pricing on the other," said CEO Frederick B. Beilstein III. "The company's management and its board of directors determined that a Chapter 11 filing was a necessary part of the company’s restructuring. We believe that it will allow us to best serve our stakeholders, including our customers, our vendors and our employees.”

Townsends said it is pursuing a $52 million debtor-in-possession financing facility, to enable normal operation of its business, including the timely payment of employee wages and other obligations. Officials said the -- during the  Chapter 11 process -- suppliers should expect to be paid for post-petition purchases of goods and services in the ordinary course of business.

Townsends operates facilities in Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia. Its brands include Chef’s Select, Perfect Breast, Pristine Cuisine, Ruby Dragon, Speedy Bird and Zabiha Halal.