Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. announced today that Jayson Penn has been appointed as the company’s new president and CEO, succeeding Bill Lovette, who is retiring from the position effective immediately. Lovette will be available to provide strategic advisory services to the company through July 2020.

“The Board is extremely grateful for Bill’s leadership, vision, dedication and commitment,” said Gilberto Tomazoni, chairman of the board of directors for Pilgrim’s, in a news release. “His legacy at Pilgrim’s will endure through the strong management team and unique business platform he developed, which will position the company for continued growth and success.”

Lovette has served in Pilgrim’s top post since January 2011, and is credited with helping grow the business from $6.9 billion to $10.9 billion in annual net revenue. During his tenure as CEO, the company said, he oversaw the diversification of Pilgrim’s product and brand portfolio and expanded its footprint into Europe and in Mexico.

“I appreciate the commitment and support from our team throughout this eight-year transformational journey to create the company Pilgrim’s is today,” said Bill Lovette. “Jayson has been instrumental in building our strong culture, and we back him with our full support.”

Penn, most recently president of Pilgrim’s USA, assumes the position of company president and CEO immediately. Company officials credit him as being at the forefront of the company’s growth strategy in recent years.  Penn joined Pilgrim’s in March 2011 as senior vice president of the commercial business group and was later promoted to executive vice president of sales and operations, prior to becoming president of Pilgrim’s USA.

“Since joining the company, Jason has exemplified the leadership qualities, passion to succeed and business acumen that make him the ideal candidate to assume this role,” Tomazoni said.  “The board’s decision is further validation of the Pilgrim’s strategy, implemented in 2012, to create a unique, diversified portfolio across multiple geographies, with a focus on key customers and operational excellence, to generate more consistent and higher margins.  Jayson has been at the forefront of this strategy and we are confident in his ability to continue to create shareholder value.”

Penn began his career in his family’s poultry operations and moved on to hold management positions at Sanderson Farms and Marshall Durbin Companies.  He also worked as director of sales at Case Foods.

Penn also has served on the board of directors and the executive committee of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council and he currently serves on the board and executive committee of the National Chicken Council and the board of directors of The World Poultry Foundation. He is a graduate of Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, and the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Pilgrim’s employs approximately 52,100 people and operates chicken processing plants and prepared-foods facilities in 14 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the U.K., and continental Europe.



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