US demand for chicken still strong in spite of AI

18-07-2006 | |

US domestic demand for chicken has remained strong in spite of bad press for poultry because of avian influenza.

“No one that we’ve spoken to has reported any impact from avian influenza,” said Richard Lobb, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, a Washington trade group. “The public is very well aware of bird flu but there’s really been no measurable impact on demand for chicken in the United States.”

Overseas exports, on the other hand, took a major hit over autumn as populations in Turkey, Romania, Ukraine and other countries with confirmed cases of bird flu became averse to chicken altogether, added Mr Lobb. Weak overseas sales have led a number of large US producers to cut production recently.

US chicken restaurant chains, however, say their customers have faith in the precautions taken by chicken processors, who have implemented safeguards to prevent the transmission of avian flu by farm employees or migrant birds. “It’s business as usual,” said Alicia Thompson, spokeswoman for Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits. “I think at this point consumers are feeling fairly confident that there is no threat to the US poultry supply chain.”