Pilgrim’s Pride reported higher net sales and operating income during its fiscal third quarter, ending Sept. 29, and for the first 39 weeks of 2019.

The improvement was attributable in part to increased sales in the US and Mexico and continued positive demand for value-added, non-commodity chicken from the retail and quick-service-restaurant segments.

For the quarter, the company reported net sales of $2.78 billion, a 3-percent increase from the $2.70 billion reported during the same 13-week period last year. Adjusted net income for the quarter was $109.8 million compared to $29.3 billion the previous year and $363.8 billion for the first 39 weeks of 2019 compared to $255.3 billion during the same period in 2018. Pilgrim’s adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.44 for Q3 was 267 percent higher than the previous year’s $0.12 EPS.

“After a challenging Q3 2018 within the US pure commodity market, conditions during Q3 of this year were much improved,” said Jayson Penn, CEO.

“The environment in non-commodity chicken was in-line with seasonality and remained strong, driven by demand from retailers and QSRs,” Penn said, adding that the company remains committed to its Key Customer strategy while continuing to innovate in all its business segments. “We are investing to further differentiate our portfolio and increase our capacities and capabilities to meet customer expectations. We expect value added, differentiated products to account for a significantly larger portion of our total results over the next few years as we continue to reduce our mix of more volatile commodity sales and improve our margin profile.”

“Mexico was in-line with normal seasonality and significantly better than last year,” Penn said. “We expect to generate improved performance for the remainder of 2019 as demand continues to grow. Our Prepared Foods have continued to increase at a double-digit rate and are generating great results under both premium Pilgrim’s and Del Dia brands to drive the evolution of our Mexican portfolio towards more differentiated, higher-value products and margin expansion.”