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Agribiz: Eat more chicken? Americans saying yes

POSTED: October 24, 2012 11:59 p.m.

Chicken has done something that most cattlemen thought was not possible: Americans are eating more chicken now than ever before.

On average in 2010, 58 pounds of chicken per person were available for Americans to eat, compared to 56.7 pounds of beefper person. These findings can be found in the September 2012 edition of Amber Waves from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

This is great news for our Hall County poultry industry base. Not only do the poultry processing companies benefit from the uptick in consumption, but also all the supporting industries such as the poultry veterinarian companies and poultry equipment and packaging industries that call Hall County home. All of these industries provide so many jobs to the residents of Hall. This increased consumption data is good news in today’s economy.

According to the USDA, beef availability has been on the decline since 1976 with a peak of 88.8 pounds. Chicken has been making a steady increase since the 1940s, with its first milestone of topping pork consumption in 1996 as the second-most-eaten meat in America.

Part of the increase in the popularity of chicken is the way it has been made available to consumers. We can now buy chicken skinless-boneless pieces, breaded pieces and precooked portions that are ready to eat. It seems the way to America’s stomach is to provide convenience.

In addition, restaurants such as KFC have made their menus to reflect the expected convenience and variety that customers want. Just this week, KFC announced the release of a new chicken tender product called Dip’ems. The increase in variety of products will reinforce high demand for chicken by Americans.

The other big factor playing into the move is the relative price of chicken over beef and pork. Using 2010 data, chicken was $1.67-$2.64 per pound cheaper than beef and $0.67-$1.36 per pound lower than pork.

Health concerns have also pushed toward higher demand of chicken. Chicken has less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than beef.

Georgia-produced chicken not only feeds most of the country, but it also provides much of the world with its demand of chicken. I hope that demand for chicken continues to increase so that our local economy continues to grow and provide jobs to people in Northeast Georgia.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears biweekly on Thursday’s Business page and at


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