Chickens stop clucking: First it was banks, then small retail chains, then car companies, now America’s biggest chicken processor has fallen victim to the credit crunch and an oversupply of meat. Pilgrim’s Pride is America’s largest chicken producer and overnight it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection along with five affiliates.

This cheery message was posted on its website.

Today, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation voluntarily filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. First and foremost, this does not mean we are going out of business. In fact, I’d like to emphasise that we expect it will be “business as usual” as we work through this restructuring process. (Their emphasis.) We remain steadfast in our commitment to rebuilding our business and maintaining our core values. Our dedication to our customers, employees and business partners will not change. We deeply appreciate your support and cooperation as we move through this process.

The filing was ironic, coming a couple of days after the great poultry extravaganza known as Thanksgiving. But the reality was made clear in a statement on Friday in which the company warned that its 4th quarter loss would be $US800 million because of write-downs on the purchase price of a major acquisition and hedging contracts for feed grain contracts. It’s another example of how the credit crunch is hitting anyone over-borrowed and over-geared. Uncertain market conditions are adding to the problems and not even a staple like food, is proving to be a place to hide in the crumbling US economy. — Glenn Dyer

Aston Martin hurting: The slumping economy and credit crunch is no respecter of money or class, or the type of car you might like to own, or do own. Last week Rolls-Royce, owned by BMW, said said it was cutting 40 jobs at its factory in West Sussex in the UK, and closing the plant for two days this week. And Bentley has announced two rounds of production and job cuts at its plant in Crewe. Sacked and stirred: James Bond doesn’t do it any more for UK bespoke car maker, Aston Martin, nor does the likes of James Packer, who is another lover and owner of the marque.

Quantum of Solace might be the oddly-titled new Bond movie, but at Aston Martin, there’s no solace as the credit crunch and financial implosion kills sales, with the UK recession and global slowdown now chiming in. The car maker overnight revealed a cut of one third in its work force, and the non replacement of temporary employees as well. That’s a total cut of around 600 people from a work force of approximately 1850, proportionately one of the biggest cuts yet announced by a car company around the world.

Porsche last week slowed its assault on Volkswagen because its sales of high priced sports cars and other luxury vehicles were falling. It is getting rid of temporary staff and slowing output as well this month and in January. BMW revealed another 300 job losses last week, to take the number sacked or about to go to around 8,500. It’s slowing production and cutting output this month and in 2009. Daimler are doing something similar. Mercedes production cuts could top 140,000 next year according to German industry reports. — Glenn Dyer

Volvo looks shaky: Meanwhile, beleaguered Swedish carmaker Volvo, a unit of struggling Ford, says it is not surprised at news that the US auto giant is mulling selling it in the face of an industry-wide crisis. — Architecture jobs slashed: Architectural firms around the country have slashed almost a thousand jobs, as the global financial crisis swamps new development. With scores of construction projects shelved indefinitely, insiders predict many more will be sacked, with builders and engineers next in line. In Sydney, Mirvac has laid off more than 100 people, close to half its design staff. — Sky News Online Miners get shafted: Oz Minerals has confirmed about 35 contract miners will lose their jobs at the company’s Rosebery mine. The workers are employed by mining contractor, Barminco. A spokesman for Oz Minerals says the job losses relate to spending cutbacks announced by the company last week. — ABC Online Military-industrial sector gets complex: About 50 jobs will be slashed at a Defence engineering plant in Bendigo. Thales Australia says there has been lower than expected demand for its Bushmaster troop carrying vehicle, and it is seeking voluntary redundancies.  The job cuts will take effect from January. Damian King from the Manufacturing Workers Union says the company is trying to shift manufacturing overseas. — ABC Online

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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