Should You Be Stocking Up On Chicken Right Now?
If you've been to the grocery store lately, you may find on some days the meat department shelves are a bit bare when it comes to fresh chicken, while on other days the shelves are fully stocked.
What gives? Is there a chicken shortage? We checked in with a couple of experts to find out.
Is There a Chicken Shortage?
"The quick answer: there is no chicken shortage," Tom Super with the National Chicken Council tells Allrecipes. In fact, Super adds that the USDA is is predicting chicken production to be up this year, a little under 1% year over year over 2021.
Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, concurs, citing a recent National Chicken Council Washington Report that shows broiler chicken production (the chicken we buy in grocery stores) in April 2022 is slightly higher than April 2021.
Why Are Chicken Prices Increasing?
"Many costs, like the price of chicken, have increased because of unusually high demand, record input costs, labor shortages that have reduced the supply of many goods, and government spending programs that have flooded the economy," explains Super. "Greater demand and less supply equals higher prices, ultimately resulting in the highest inflation our country has seen in 40 years. Americans are seeing inflation in nearly every part of their livelihoods, and certainly not just in the meat case."
A recent surge in bird flu cases among poultry may also be driving up prices. Although of the more than 37 million poultry birds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports have been affected by the illness, only about 6 percent of them are broiler chickens. The majority of affected birds have been laying hens (about 78 percent), driving change in national egg supply and shortages more so than chicken.
In addition to chicken, the price of which has gone up 13%, other grocery store buys are seeing increased prices, too. The cost of bacon has surged 18%, beef 16%, bread 7%, coffee 11%, fish 11%, milk 13%, and oranges 18% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example.
When Will Chicken Prices Come Back Down?
"It would be hard for me to predict what prices will do in the future," says Giles. "In my own experience, I have seen days when grocery store supplies were limited and a few days later they were full.
"I think this is an example of classic supply and demand dynamics," he continues. "Chicken demand is very strong right now because it is a good, healthy protein choice that still provides value for the consumer."
Should You Stock Up on Chicken?
"I wouldn't advise people to stock up," says Giles. "That only exacerbates the situation when a store faces a short term supply issue. If a consumer sees a product and price that they like, they should buy it just like any other time."
"I do not think shoppers need to be stocking up," says Super, "but of course I always promote buying more chicken!"
The Bottom Line
There's no need to panic shop for chicken. But with rising prices, if you do find chicken at a price that's easy on your wallet, and you have room in your freezer, you can always buy now and save to cook later.