GREELEY, Colo. – During a May 27 conference call with analysts to discuss Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.’s offer to acquire Hillshire Brands Co. earlier that morning, the topic of synergies was prominent. Bill Lovette, president and CEO, mentioned, for example, that Pilgrim’s experience in foodservice and supermarket deli branding could be shared with and complement Hillshire’s established expertise in the retail space. Likewise, Pilgrim’s established position as a protein provider (mostly chicken) to the school lunch program in the US would serve as an opportunity to extend some of the Hillshire brands in that channel, where it isn’t a big player now.

When asked if similar synergies exist between JBS and Pilgrim’s Pride, which is majority owned by JBS S.A., São Paulo, Lovette mentioned a recent example focused on operations and engineering between the two companies. Based on a system that had been successful at JBS Beef, a team of industrial engineers was recently assigned to go into six of Pilgrim’s 33 plants to take a closer look at each processing step. The team videotaped every job in the plant as part of what is known as an Industrial Engineering Assessment Model study. “And then we run it through a package of software where it optimizes the motions of that job,” Lovette said, making the job ergonomically easier for workers to complete and standardizing the number of positions in the plant.

“We actually hired the head industrial engineer at JBS Beef to come over and help us implement that system at Pilgrim’s,” he said, adding: “It’s going to create substantial cost savings in our operations.” This system could obviously be shared with future plants brought into the system, presumably Hillshire.

That’s just one example of what we can do,” he said.