Sanderson Farms has shrugged off the gloom in the US poultry sector with plans to build a processing facility in North Carolina.

The company said the US$126.5m site will process 1.25m birds a week and employ up to 1,500 workers.

Construction will start this summer and the site is expected to be up and running in 2009.

Chairman and CEO Joe Sanderson Jr said the company’s recent financial performance had put it in a position to grow the business through expansion.

Sanderson Jr said: “We believe the additional capacity of 1.25m birds per week represented by the new complex will provide new marketing opportunities for the company in the fresh retail market.”

The investment from Sanderson comes as other poultry producers cut back amid rising grain costs.

Pilgrim’s Pride has recently announced plans to cut its weekly chicken production, close close a chicken processing complex and six of its 13 distribution centres in the US.

Pilgrim’s has pointed to a “crisis” in the US poultry sector due to rising feed costs as corn is diverted to biofuels production.