Richmond-area restaurant owners experience sticker shock on increasing cost of chicken

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Blame it on the pandemic, blame it on more people turning to chicken these days, but it’s all turning into sticker shock when we’re purchasing poultry.

The price of chicken is going up, if you have not noticed. Richmond-area restaurants owners are certainly paying attention to the spike and the reasons why.

“It’s crazy you know. We wonder every day we place an order whether or not we’re going to get our chicken in,” said Matt Simmons, Fest Biergarten President.

The owner of Fest Biergarten in Chesterfield County says he’s seeing issues with chicken wing orders. Six months ago, Simmons says, wings cost about $2.00 per pound. Today, that same pound costs $3.60, which is a sizable increase.

“Every time we think the prices can’t get any higher, it gets higher. We hope it comes down,” said Simmons.

Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture says a few factors are at play here. There are national issues, like the commercial chicken sandwich war, but in Virginia the issues center around a shortage of poultry workers.

Overall, first quarter of this year chicken production was down 4%, according to the USDA.

“We have a number of companies that are working hard to continue to provide that supply not only to individuals in their backyard but across the state, across the nation and across the world,” said Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.

Poultry is the state’s largest agricultural sector, producing 280 million per year and ranking 10th in the country for production.

“Supply is tight but demand is tight but I foresee that that will easy going forward as we ramp supply up,” Hobey Bauhan, President, Virginia Poultry Federation.

Supply began increasing last month and continues to this month, up 2% so far in May. Industry leaders say supply and price will level out, but no one could put their thumb on exactly when.

“We’re not going to run out of chicken in the United States or in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Bauhan.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, broiler (chickens raised for meat) head produced was down 4% in the first quarter of 2021 and pounds produced down 3%. Production fortunately began picking back up in the beginning of April and we’ve seen an increase in production over the past month. According to the same data, broilers produced the week ending April 10th were up 4% versus a year ago; the week ending April 17th up 9%; the week ending April 24th up 7%, and the week ending May 1st up 2%.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

Submit a news tip.