Mountaire to Expand in Delaware, Seeks Allen Family Acquisition

The Delaware subsidiary of one of Arkansas' largest private companies is planning to expand and aims to buy the assets of a competitor that filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday morning.

Poultry producers Mountaire Corp. of Little Rock said its Mountaire Farms of Delaware Inc. will expand the processing facilities of its new affiliate, the Seaford Milling Co., in Selbyville and Millsboro, Del.

The company said the expansion will increase the need for area poultry growers to support an additional 400,000 birds per week.

"Although the poultry industry continues to face challenges, we are optimistic about the opportunities for growth in the Delmarva region and expect the benefits in the coming years to justify the investment needed for expansion," Mountaire Farms CEO Dave Pogge said in a news release.

The company also said it has entered into an agreement to acquire all of the inventory, hatcheries, feed mill, breeder operations, rendering operations, and production assets of Allen Family Foods Inc. of Seaford, Del., another poultry company.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection citing changes in the market for poultry. It employs about 2,300 people in Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina.

In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., the Allen Family Foods listed both assets and debt between $50 million and $100 million.

Two Allen affiliates -- Allen's Hatchery and JCR Enterprises -- also sought protection and are included in Mountaire's purchase agreement.

Pogge said any acquisition of Allen's operations will require bankruptcy court approval.

"Pending court approval, our intention would be to commence operations as soon as possible," Pogge said.

Mountaire Corp. ranked third on this year's Arkansas Business Largest Private Companies list with $1.3 billion in revenue last year. The company has 5,600 employees across the U.S. and has grown from an estimated $443 million and 3,100 workers in 2000.