Organic poultry gains popularity
Despite high feed costs, eggs and poultry are now among the fastest growing organic food products in the US. The sale of organic eggs is expected to rise nearly 40% and poultry sales to more than triple by the end of the decade.
The driving factor behind the rise in sales and the increasing popularity of this sector includes concerns regarding health issues, the environment and animal welfare. There are several labels that are used to entice consumers (free range, natural, cage-free and no antibiotics), however, only the organic label is regulated by USDA and addresses the range of concerns cited by consumers.
Although certified organic poultry nearly quadrupled in the US between 2000 and 2005, to more than 13 million certified birds, supply still trails demand, resulting in very high price premiums for organic poultry and eggs.
The price premiums paid for organic poultry or eggs by retailers, distributors or manufacturers from 2004 – 2006 averaged 200% for organic broilers and 278% for organic eggs.
A major reason for the high price premiums is the higher production costs, which can cost 50 – 100% more than conventional feed, and account for up to 70% of the cost of raising organic poultry.