Pilgrim's Pride Corporationsaid it plans by September 30, 2011, to close its chicken processing plant in Dallas "as part of its continuing effort to reduce costs and operate more efficiently."

One of the nation's largest processors, Pilgrim's, Greeley, Colo., employs approximately 42,000 people and operates chicken processing plants and prepared-foods facilities in 12 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Officials say Dallas operations will be consolidated into other facilities in the region, including the processing and prepared-foods plants in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, thus improving their capacity utilization.

Pilgrim's noted that other live production operations in Northeast Texas will continue to function.  Pilgrim's contract growers who supply birds to the Dallas plant will begin supplying the other company plants following the consolidation.

Meanwhile, the plant closure is expected to affect approximately 1,000 hourly and salaried employees who work at the Dallas facility.

"While the decision to close a plant and eliminate jobs is always painful, we must make better use of our assets given the challenges facing our industry from record-high feed costs and an oversupply of chicken," said Bill Lovette, president and chief executive officer.  "A key component of that effort is improving our capacity utilization through production consolidation and other operational changes.  By closing the Dallas facility, we can consolidate that production volume at three other plants and help those sites run closer to full capacity.  In addition, we will eliminate the cost associated with transporting live birds from northeast Texas to the Dallas processing plant and shipping offal from Dallas back to our protein conversion plant in Mt. Pleasant.  This will significantly reduce our costs and allow us to operate more efficiently.  In addition, we believe it will go a long way toward helping position Pilgrim's to emerge from the current industry down-cycle as a leaner, more competitive company."

Lovette said there are no plans to close other processing facilities at this time.