The chief executive of Pilgrim’s Pride today (29 October) pointed to improving efficiency and cost control during the US poultry group’s third quarter even as profits fell 30% on the year.

Pilgrim’s Pride booked net earnings of US$57.9m for the quarter to 26 September, down from $82.7m a year ago.

Adjusted EBITDA, which excludes restructuring and reorganisation charges, stood at $170m compared to $185.3m last year.

“When compared to the second quarter of 2010, our financial performance in the third quarter reflects continued improvement in operating efficiencies and cost control,” president and chief executive Don Jackson said today (29 October). “Our operational focus on improving yields, labor and other plant-related costs is driving better efficiencies, and we remain focused on sales mix and price improvement.”

During the quarter, Pilgrim’s Pride saw its net sales reach $1.72bn, dipping from $1.74bn in last year’s third quarter.

Jackson said the company is on track to restart deboning operations at its idled processing plant in Georgia in mid-November to support other plants, with slaughter operations to begin in January.

“We are optimistic about the outlook for chicken heading into 2011,” Jackson said. “While all of us are concerned about higher grain prices and the uncertain economy, there are several encouraging signs heading into next year. Given the reduction in beef supply and the higher prices that are expected for beef and pork, chicken should be attractively positioned with consumers who are looking for the best value.”