US poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride has reported higher quarterly net income and said it would restructure its turkey division to focus on value-added products.

The company posted net income of US$33.0m, or 50 cents per share, for the second quarter to 3 April, compared to earnings of $10.8m, or 26 cents per share, in the same quarter of last year.

Net sales rose to $1.38bn from $630.6m a year earlier, with the increase resulting primarily from the November acquisition of the ConAgra chicken division.

“Our record quarterly…performance reflects the continued improvement in the US pricing environment for chicken, and our success in achieving synergies through our integration of the ConAgra chicken division acquisition, which continues to be accretive to earnings,” said chief operating officer O.B. Goolsby.

“Our expanded and enhanced prepared foods product mix, improved distribution capabilities and enhanced operational and customer service capabilities have positioned us to better capitalise on favourable industry trends, and we expect these factors to be increasingly important revenue drivers for the company going forward,” he added.

The company also announced plans to restructure its turkey business to significantly reduce production of commodity turkey meat and strengthen the unit’s focus on value-added turkey products.

Pilgrim’s Pride plans to complete the restructuring by 1 October 2004, when the company aims to have a turkey product mix that is two-thirds value-added and one-third branded fresh and frozen products.

As part of its restructuring effort, the company announced that it intends to sell or close its Hinton, Virginia turkey commodity meat operations. The Hinton turkey operation currently employs approximately 1,300 employees and processes approximately 160,000 turkeys per week.