From the grocer to the gas pump, Americans are paying high prices. Continued inflationary pressure could push consumers toward poultry.

Inflation in the U.S.

A combination of supply chain snarls, COVID-19 pandemic related shortages, natural disasters, a deficit of workers and plain bad luck are causing consumers to pay a higher price on staples.

The Consumer Price Index increased by 5.4 percent in September 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, consumers are paying 5.4% more for essential products than they did at the same time last year. The price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs increased by 10.5% during that same time.

In a WATT Poultry Chat interview, Mark Jordan, executive director of LEAP Market Analytics, examined both the poultry and competing proteins markets and concluded supplies are tight across the board. There are no clear signs supplies will significantly increase any time soon, either.

A cheaper option

Historically, when shoppers face economic hardship they opt for cheaper food. While the price of poultry is rising along with other proteins, it is still among the most affordable and most widely available proteins. If meat prices continue to rise across the board, chicken and turkey should benefit some as consumers substitute.

Bad news can be good news for the chicken industry. Wings are already flying off the shelf, and driving up other poultry parts prices, too. Perhaps higher meat prices will drive shoppers to buy more boneless skinless, breast meat as well as bone-in and boneless dark meat.

Chicken, as I have said before, is a health food. It’s high in protein, low in fat and can be used in nearly every recipe. Americans are already embracing chicken – in the form of a sandwich – as a comfort food.

If food prices continue to increase, or stay above normal for a long time, perhaps 2022 could be a year for chicken to further grow its share of the American protein market.