Foster Farms has entered into a definitive deal with Pilgrim’s Pride to acquire the US poultry group’s Louisiana chicken complex for US$80m.

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including government approval and US Bankruptcy Court approval, and is expected to close within 14 days.

The Farmerville complex includes a chicken processing facility, a cook plant, two hatcheries, a feed mill, and a protein conversion plant.

“Foster Farms is looking forward to expanding our operations into the State of Louisiana,” said Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster.

“Foster Farms anticipates upgrading and adding to the capabilities of the Farmerville complex. These enhancements, when operational and used in conjunction with the experienced local work force, will allow us to build a strong sales base, leading to a return to full double shift capacity, over time, after Foster Farms’ purchase.”

According to Foster Farms, Pilgrim’s Pride has committed to placing eggs in the Farmerville hatchery immediately. When hatched, these chicks will be placed in local farms owned by independent growers.

Foster Farms’ operation will continue to utilise the established network of local growers, both to grow chicks, as well as the pullets and breeders necessary for an ongoing supply of hatching eggs.

Foster Farms said it expects to restart plant operations by mid July.

Pilgrim’s Pride filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December in order to address “short-term operational and liquidity challenges”.

Since then, the company has idled four of its 32 US chicken processing plants.