US chicken producer Pilgrim's Pride has said that it will cut 335 jobs across its organisation by the end of this month in a bid to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs.


Jobs will be lost at "virtually all" of Pilgrim's Pride sites in nearly three dozen locations, a spokesperson for the company told just-food today (20 November). The cuts represent less than 1% of Pilgrim's Pride's total workforce.


Employees who are affected will be notified this week and will be provided severance benefits, including outplacement assistance.


"Our company and our industry are facing the toughest operating environment in decades, and it is absolutely critical for Pilgrim's Pride to continue to do everything we can to operate our business as efficiently as possible," the spokesperson said.


"The dynamics of the chicken industry have changed dramatically over the past year, and we must continue to evaluate our organisation to match the realities of the marketplace."


Pilgrim's Pride's profits have been hit by soaring feed costs and weak poultry prices in recent months. The company's high level of indebtedness, primarily the result of its takeover of Gold Kist last year, have also become an increasing concern amid the turmoil in the credit markets, prompting industry speculation that the poultry giant could facing bankruptcy in a matter of months.


The company has made a series of job cuts this year and in November appointed a restructuring officer to help devise plans to revitalise the business.