Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on September 19, 2003. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Poultry prices continue strong into fall months
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Poultry and egg prices have rebounded from the challenges of 2002 and are soaring into the fall in much better shape than they were last year.
Tim Chamblee, poultry management researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said increased consumer demand and reduced numbers of chickens have combined to boost prices for broilers and eggs.
"2002 was a challenging year for the poultry industry. Russia, our single largest export customer, placed an embargo on U.S. chickens in March 2002. That forced more poultry back into the domestic market," Chamblee said. "Producers compensated by reducing bird numbers, which is helping prices in the last part of 2003."
The Mississippi State University associate professor said poultry prices normally decline after Labor Day. As travel diminishes and cooler temperatures set in, people grill out less or choose heavier meats. This year, other factors seem to be keeping consumers interested in poultry later into the fall months.
Mike Cockrell, chief financial officer for Sanderson Foods in Laurel, said broiler meat prices also have benefitted from beef prices that hit all-time highs twice this year.
"Consumers are continuing to purchase chicken as we move into the fall, and when demand is strong, prices are too," Cockrell said. "Whole bird prices were up 13 percent through July compared to the same period in 2002. Leg quarters were up 36 percent; wing prices were up 34 percent and boneless breast meat prices were up 15.3 percent."
He said many companies experienced broiler losses the last of 2002 -- largely due to the loss of the Russian market. Companies were forced to cut production to stem losses, and they continued their cutbacks into 2003. However, the market situation this year has been a different story.
"The pricing environment for our product has been good for the last six months. There has been a flat or lower supply of broiler meat, and demand has been strong," Cockrell said.
Chamblee said egg prices have been about 40 percent stronger than in the previous year.
Ed Scott, general manager for Cal-Maine in Edwards, said Mississippi's egg production levels are about the same as in 2002, but they are down nationally.
"As hen numbers continue to decrease nationally, we should have strong prices into the coming year," Scott said. "A big bonus is that consumption has been up in recent years."