The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting a 2% to 3% poultry price increase in 2011, which will bring the national average price for boneless chicken breast to $3.424 per pound (from $3.324 per pound).
U.S. corn supplies are at their lowest levels in 15 years, due to an increase in demand coupled with a decline in reserves as more of the harvest goes to the ethanol industry. This situation is having an even greater impact on pork prices, which are expected to increase 3.5% to 4.5%. "All of the meat commodities that we put in the center of the plate are going to have some price (increases)," said Tom Jackson, president and CEO of the Ohio Grocers Association, since chicken, hogs and cattle are all fed corn.
According to grocers, poultry products will be the first to reflect the price increases. "Pork will follow, then beef," said Food-4-Less owner Bucky Lee, who has been in the grocery business for 44 years. "It just takes them longer to get fed and into the food supply."