Chicken is a perennial favorite at cookouts and picnics, and with prices low and many shoppers looking to save money this summer, producers are expecting a good season.
“We're looking forward to a good summer. People are rediscovering the virtues of chicken,” said Richard Lobb, communications director for the National Chicken Council in Washington.
However, Lobb noted that feed costs remain a concern for producers. After reaching historic highs last summer, prices for corn and soybeans — two of the primary components of chicken feed — have fallen significantly. But the price of oil is on the rise again, and with it, prices for ethanol and corn.
“It's true that the cost of corn and soybeans has leveled off after hitting unprecedented highs, but the prices are still at roughly twice their [average] historical level, and are heading back up,” Lobb said. “So, it's something we're keeping a close eye on. The price of corn has become linked to the price of oil. That's something our industry is keeping an eye on.”
Still, Lobb suggested that retailers looking to showcase bargains in the meat case always have plenty of options when it comes to chicken.
“One thing they could do would be to feature dark meat,” he said. “We've got great deals on legs and thighs and drumsticks. They've traditionally played second fiddle to breast meats, particularly boneless. But if they're looking for deals, you can offer them through dark meats. They could point out that [legs, thighs and drumsticks] grill very well. Dark meat has a little more fat to it, which makes it easier to keep moist on the grill.”