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Zacky Family Backs out of Purchase

06 February 2013

US - Pitman Family Farms may take over Zacky Farms after the Zacky family trust retracted its offer to take over the bankrupt poultry company.

The Zacky family has backed off of its plan to purchase Fresno-based Zacky Farms in a bankruptcy auction, leaving a Sanger family business next in line, reports The Business Journal.

The Robert D. and Lillian D. Zacky Trust — which provided a $71 million loan to keep the poultry processor afloat after its October bankruptcy filing — originally submitted the winning bid of $31.6 million for the company in mid-January.

Now the trust appears to have cold feet, according to bankruptcy court documents filed last week.

Now Zacky will ask the court to go with the backup bid from Sanger's Pitman Family Farms, which pledged up to $32.1 million for the company's assets.

Pitman, which sells its products under the Mary's Free Range Chickens brand, did not plan to rehire Zacky's 1,500 workers in operations in Fresno, Tulare, Kings, San Joaquin and Los Angeles counties, according to its bid.

Pitman has asked for additional time to close to sale until 15 February, which would require The Robert D. and Lillian D. Zacky Trust to fund operations until that time.

The publication's message left for David Pitman, principal of Pitman Family Farms, was not immediately returned. The company has more than 500 employees.

The Business Journal reports that Pitman Family Farms is a third-generation poultry company with roots dating back to 1954. It sells its products in stores across the Western US including Whole Foods and Save Mart.

The company is known in the industry for its humane practices. The business’ ranch in Parlier, for example, received the highest rating by Whole Foods for animal welfare out of 2,000 farms in the country. It was also the first to achieve its coveted level-five status in the category. Even animals rights group PETA gave a nod to Mary’s Chickens for its ethical treatment of animals.

“I get people that email and call me saying they’re not going to buy anyone else’s chickens but ours because they love that we care how we treat our animals. Animal welfare is what the consumer is so concerned about now," said Mary Pitman, the company's matriarch and namesake, in an interview a year ago.

Fiscal responsibility is another point of pride, Ms Pitman said.

“We’re one of the last of the independent farmers in the poultry business to remain and it’s been a struggle. The only reason we’re still in business is because we don’t have any debt and we’ve watched our money carefully," she told The Business Journal.

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