If you don’t think chickens can fly, check out the soaring prices in the meat section of your grocery store. Bidenomics inflation continues to hit struggling Americans in the pocketbook, and the latest price hike affects poultry, the now-popular first protein choice for Biden’s impoverished Americans.
In the face of ever-rising inflation, many consumers have been forced to choose chicken over pricier beef and pork at the store. This surge in chicken prices has been partially fueled by major poultry producers, such as Tyson Foods, dialing back their production. As we approach the holiday season, this price surge is expected to benefit the bottom lines of top producers, like Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride.
This year, the average person is on track to consume over 100 pounds of chicken, an all-time high. In stark contrast, beef consumption is projected to drop to levels not seen since 2018, primarily due to dwindling cattle supplies. Meanwhile, pork consumption has sunk to its lowest point since 2015.
As of August, retail prices for chicken hit historic highs. Even drumstick prices have taken a 10% leap since hitting a nearly one-year low back in February. Despite the surge in prices, consumers are forced to flock to chicken as a more budget-friendly option compared to its meaty counterparts.
But it’s not all bad news, if you’re a producer. According to an index, chicken producer profit margins have reached their zenith in a year. Tyson’s chicken business is looking at reporting positive margins, with expectations of a 4% increase in fiscal year 2024. With the holiday season approaching, these price surges are a feast for the bottom lines of top producers, like Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride.
This surge in prices aligns with the decisions of companies to scale back their production, which had been in full throttle throughout 2022. Tyson, for instance, plans to close six U.S. chicken plants and implement substantial layoffs to counter the financial strain, which they claim is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, when we dive into the political arena, it’s clear that this chicken industry turbulence isn’t a consequence of the pandemic’s aftermath.
And it’s not entirely caused by Biden’s inflation. In spring 2023, the Biden administration seemed to declare war on chicken farmers in a series of regulations that seemed designed to destroy the chicken industry and consumers alike.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stepped boldly into the chicken industry, meddling with compensation and line speeds. The current “pay for performance” system in chicken farming serves as a powerful incentive for healthier bird raising, benefiting both farmers and consumers. This system provides contract farmers with a guaranteed base pay, alongside bonuses tied to flock performance. Not only does it shield farmers from economic risks, but it also assures a predictable market, ultimately serving everyone’s interests.
Of course, the administration hates to see successful businesses. To start with, there’s talk of potentially abandoning a 25-year-old program that allows higher line speeds in processing plants, potentially leaving the U.S. trailing behind global competitors. Naturally, the calls are over alleged “safety concerns, even though In places like Canada, Europe, South America, and Asia, similar equipment operates at significantly higher line speeds without any notable food safety or worker safety issues.
But the anti-chicken saga doesn’t end there. The administration recently set its sights on the pervasive chicken mafia. The U.S.D.A. has partnered with attorneys general from 31 states and the District of Columbia, aiming to “boost competition” and “safeguard consumers” in food and agriculture markets. This coalition is targeting alleged “anticompetitive” practices in agriculture and related sectors, practices that, according to the administration, have been driving up prices and limiting choices for consumers and producers alike.
But fear not, America. The same governmental agency that hampered your ability to buy affordable poultry products has given the go-ahead for cultivated chicken, or “lab meat.” Laboratories in California (where else?) are now cleared to “grow” chicken and other meat products in petri dishes. Josh Tetrick, co-founder of Eat Just, announced that his company, along with Upside Foods, has received federal inspection approval for selling meat and poultry in the U.S.
However, these products are currently more expensive than conventionally farmed meat and cannot yet be produced at the same scale. They will be debuting in restaurants before making it to the grocery shelf.
As the chicken industry faces turbulent times and the government dabbles in “lab meat,” consumers will increasingly find their feathers ruffled by unrelenting inflation. As Biden will find out in the 2024 election, Bidenomics is nothing to crow about.