Pilgrim’s Pride reported a 24% increase in net sales during the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, which ended on September 26.

The results were announced on October 27.

The company’s net sales for the quarter were $3.83 billion, while its Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) for the quarter was $346.9 million, a year-over-year increase of 13.7%.

“On the strength of our product portfolio, we performed well in the third quarter with adjusted EBITDA up substantially over the third quarter of 2020 and the more normalized results of Q3 2019, despite the ongoing challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic,” said Fabio Sandri, CEO of Pilgrim’s.

“Labor shortages continue to be our most pressing issue. I’m extremely proud of the Pilgrim’s team members who work hard every day to ensure our customers and consumers receive the high-quality foods they expect from us. Staffing challenges, however, have hindered our ability to achieve the ideal product mix with efficient processes. We will continue to make adjustments on a plant-by-plant basis to improve staffing levels and optimize our mix.”

U.S. business

According to Sandri, Pilgrim’s U.S. business saw robust demand and pricing, driven by ongoing high levels of demand at retail and the continued recovery in the commercial foodservice sector. 

Prepared Foods volume was up 7% overall, and 16% in the consumer channel. The company grew its Pilgrim’s and Just Bare brands at retail in response to the continued growth in interest in those brands, said Sandri.

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Mexican business

Pilgrim’s Mexican operations Mexico continued to perform well and grow its sales of branded products, while following the normal seasonality of the business.

Sandri said: “Grain pricing began to moderate as we come off of the seasonally strong summer months and head into fall.”

European business

Pilgrim’s Pride’s combined European business was significantly impacted by inflationary cost pressures on inputs, utility and freight costs and increasing labor shortages; along with lower pig pricing in the region. The business overcame significant supply chain challenges to continue to support key customers in the U.K.

“Moy Park and Pilgrim’s U.K. both faced shortages of labor and truck drivers as E.U. workers left the U.K. following Brexit. In addition, rising fuel costs put pressure on both these businesses. Our portfolio in the region was complemented with the introduction of Pilgrim’s Food Masters, and we look forward to partnering with our Key Customers with our portfolio of prepared products and iconic brands,” said Sandri.

“Overall, I am extremely pleased with our team members and the execution of our strategy, often under difficult circumstances. We are committed to being the best and most respected company in our industry, and we will continue to perform to the best of our ability to serve key customers.”

Just prior to the end of the third quarter, Pilgrim’s closed on the acquisition of the Kerry Consumer Foods’ Meats and Meals business in the U.K. and Ireland. The business will be known as Pilgrim’s Food Masters and will add differentiated, value-added protein and integrated prepared foods to the company’s portfolio, anchored by leading brands.

That acquisition was finalized on September 24.