GREELEY, COLO. — Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. said it is well-positioned to reap the benefits of a thriving chicken market in the year ahead.

“We are seeing many of our customers, especially within the food service sector, seeking expanded product offerings with chicken gaining a greater market share,” said Bill Lovette, president and chief executive officer, during a May 1 earnings call with financial analysts. “To achieve this, we are systematically working through a product and customer segmentation strategy, identifying grow, sustain and harvest strategies for each of our product offerings across our customer portfolio.”

As prices for beef and pork rise, demand for chicken tenders and boneless, skinless breast portions has soared with no signs of slowing, Mr. Lovette said. Leg quarter demand also has increased as more consumers flock to boneless dark meat.

“But breast meat at this moment seems very, very strong, and … we’ve noticed a lot of food service operators have put incremental promotions on their calendar and are featuring more breast meat portions in their menu offerings,” Mr. Lovette said.

Operational improvements helped lift company earnings 80% during the first quarter.

For the quarter ended March 30, the company had net income of $98,187,000, equal to 38c per share on the common stock, which compared with $54,582,000, or 21c per share, in the prior year period.

Net sales for the quarter declined to $2,018,065,000 from $2,036,929,000.

“We’ve been able to manage our portfolio well, and now the next step in creating growth and reducing volatility is enhancing our family of brands,” Mr. Lovette said. “We are committed to developing these brands by appropriately aligning our core competencies with our customers’ needs to establish an effective and deliverable brand promise. These steps align with our goal to be a full service provider to our key customers, assuring the quality and consistency of our brand, as well as building consumer loyalty.”