Low chicken prices are good for US consumers, but is taking its toll on the agricultural economy, and particularly in the US state of Georgia where the state's $13 billion poultry industry is scaling back production to boost prices again, experts say.
Trade issues with China and efforts to raise more chickens in Russia mean the overseas market for US exports has shrunk, said Mike Lacy, the head of the University of Georgia's poultry science department. "Our exports have gone down for those reasons, plus the worldwide economic situation," Lacy said. "Supply and demand are a little out of whack."
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are fetching producers about a $1.50 a pound now, down 20% from a year ago, according to the state Department of Agriculture. In stores, those breasts are selling for an average of about $3.20 a pound.
At the same time, the cost of feed, which makes up more than half of poultry farmers' overhead, has risen by 70% over the past year, said Mike Giles, president of the Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation.
However, the long-term outlook for Georgia's poultry producers is good, Giles added. Mexico has replaced China and Russia as the top market for Georgia poultry, and because chicken is not a common food in many countries, there is room for growth overseas.
Giles said he expects demand for food to double by 2050. When it does, access to the port of Savannah means Georgia will be well-positioned to take advantage.
Source: Online Athens