GREELEY, COLO. – Improvements in its Prepared Foods business unit and continued foodservice recovery in the US market combined with strong demand for products internationally were bright spots in Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.’s 2021 fiscal fourth quarter ended Dec. 26, 2021, and year-end report. 

The company reported net sales of $4 billion for the fourth quarter of 2021, an increase from $3.1 billion reported during the same 13-week period in fiscal 2020. For fiscal 2021, however, Pilgrim’s reported net income of $31 million, versus $94.7 million in 2020, a 67.3% decrease from the prior year. Net sales for the year were $14.8 billion, up from $12.1 billion in 2020.

Operating income for the year was at $211.2 million, compared to $245.5 million in operating income in 2020. The company, which is majority owned by JBS SA, reported operating income margins of 7.1% in the United States.

“The Pilgrim’s Pride team was relentless in the face of input cost inflation and volatility, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and a global pandemic. They managed through these challenges to deliver a strong performance in the fourth quarter and the fiscal year,” said Fabio Sandri, chief executive officer of Pilgrim’s. “By staying focused on our key customer strategy, on the safety of our employees and on producing high-quality food products, our diversified portfolio delivered improved results over last year as well as 2019 pre-COVID baselines.”

Pilgrim’s explained that its strong earnings were largely due to increasing demand for poultry in the US market. 

“Strong US consumer demand for chicken supported fresh meat pricing throughout 2021, and we expect this pricing environment to continue into the near future with the USDA projecting supply growth of only 1.6% for 2022,” Sandri added. “Chicken remains a great value relative to the other major proteins, and we continue to grow and improve our portfolio in partnerships with key customers and to grow our Prepared Foods business while supporting our differentiated Pilgrim’s and Just Bare brands within retail and e-commerce.”

In Mexico, sales increased by around 8.8% in Q4, to $426.7 million compared to $392.5 million during the same time period in 2020. For this year, net sales in Mexico were $1.73 billion compared to $1.32 billion in 2020.

“Our business in Mexico dealt with elevated feed grain pricing for much of the year but executed well and delivered results surpassing last year with fresh and prepared foods offerings in our Pilgrim’s, Del Dia and Alamesa brands,” Sandri said.

In Europe, sales in Q4 of this year increased significantly, at $1.21 billion compared to $849 million in the fourth quarter of 2020. For the year, European sales in 2020 are up by more than 20%, at $3.93 billion compared to $3.27 billion during the same period last year.

“Our legacy European businesses faced rising input costs and overall inflation, labor disruptions due to Brexit and very challenging market conditions,” Sandri said. “Through continued execution of our operational excellence strategy and pricing model actions, we are confident in our legacy UK businesses returning to expected results. At the end of September, we welcomed Pilgrim’s Food Masters with its value-added branded products that strengthened our portfolio in Europe and created a differentiated platform for growth.”