Pilgrim's has plans to eliminate all antibiotics from 25 percent the chickens it produces by 2019, Bill Lovette, CEO of Pilgrim’s, recently announced. Pilgrim’s, the second largest poultry company in the United States, currently has about 5 percent of its birds raised without the use of antibiotics.
The move is being made in response to the growing demand for antibiotic-free chicken, both from consumers and from companies that Pilgrim’s supplies.
The company also announced that it is working to end the use of antibiotics that are deemed important in human medicine, which responds to a growing trend of companies phasing out such antibiotics amid concerns about their use leading to antibiotic resistance. Quick service restaurant chain McDonald’s and retail chain Costco both announced in March that they would be phasing out chicken raised with antibiotics also used in human medicine.
Other restaurant chains, such as Chick-fil-A, have initiated plans to totally eliminate chicken raised with antibiotics from company locations.
Headquartered in Greeley, Colorado, Pilgrim’s processes 28.72 million birds weekly, according to the WATT Global Media Top Companies Database. The company, which is a subsidiary of Brazil-based meat and poultry company JBS SA, has 24 slaughter plants, five cooking plants, 30 hatcheries and 24 feed mills.