In an attempt to boost profitability, struggling chicken manufacturer Pilgrim's Pride has unveiled plans to stop production at two processing plants in Arkansas and Louisiana.

The closures will result in the loss of 600 jobs, the company said today (11 August).

Pilgrim's Pride said production at the Bossier City-based plant in Louisiana would shift to other manufacturing sites, while the closure of its Clinton-based facility in Arkansas will result in a 1.25% drop in total output this autumn.

The company maintains that by cutting back production and restricting supply it will increase the price it receives for chicken products.

The US poultry market is currently oversupplied, keeping prices down at a time when energy and feed costs have skyrocketed. The US poultry industry has therefore found itself unable to increase prices to offset costs.

The company said market prices for breast meat are now at US$1.33 per pound, below the five-year average of $1.63 per pound for the month of August.

This latest set of closures comes hot on the heels of the company's move to shut down a production plant in North Carolina, consolidate tray-pack operations in Arkansas and close seven distribution centres nationally.

Commenting on the move, president and CEO Clint Rivers said: "While we had sincerely hoped to avoid further facility closures or consolidations, we recognise that we must do everything in our control to pass along higher input costs. We believe the actions announced today, while painful, are needed to position Pilgrim's Pride to emerge from this down cycle as a much stronger, more efficient competitor."

Pilgrim's Pride has eliminated 2,300 jobs since it began its cost-cutting initiative.