If you think chicken prices are already high, think again. The current bird flu outbreaks across a number of US states might make prices go even higher.
If the virus continues its spread, already high poultry prices will go much higher.
Chicken Prices Will Go Higher If Bird Flu Spreads Further
According to the Agriculture Department, the price of chicken breasts averaged $3.63 per pound this week. This is up from $3.01 per pound last week. In March of last year, chicken breasts cost $2.42 per pound.
Now, consumers should brace for a new round of hikes as bird flu outbreaks might affect supplies. A commercial flock in Nebraska confirmed an outbreak this week.
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This caused the culling of more than half a million broiler chickens. Agriculture officials also had to kill an additional two million birds in Delaware and Maryland for the same reason.
South Dakota also reported an outbreak that caused the loss of 85,000 chickens. Last March 14, A Wisconsin outbreak at a commercial hatchery had to kill 2.7 million egg-laying chickens as well.
59 Confirmed Bird Flu Sites Across The US
According to the USDA, bird flu already struck 59 confirmed sites in 17 states since the start of 2022. The outbreak covered not just chickens, but turkeys and other poultry as well.
The agency identified a case of avian flu in a wild bird in mid-January. This was the first recorded case of bird flu in the United States since 2016.
Unfortunately, wild birds can spread the bird flu virus to commercial and backyard poultry. By February 9, a commercial flock in Indiana reported a bird flu outbreak.
Since then, growers have reported hundreds of confirmed cases of bird flu across the country.
50 Million Chickens Destroyed During Last Major Bird Flu Outbreak in 2014-15
The United States reported the last major avian flu outbreak from December 2014 to June 2015. During that period, agriculture officials had to bring down more than 50 million chickens and turkeys to halt the spread.
At the time, chicken prices such as breasts went up by 17%. At the same time, prices for chicken cuts made for the export markets dropped as well.
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The governments of major markets such as China, South Korea, Cuba, and Mexico ordered a suspension of all chicken imports from the US.
This led to prices of chicken leg quarters dropping by 18%. The outbreak also affected poultry prices for eggs and turkeys.
Bird Flu Has Low Risk For Humans
But what about the risk of bird flu to humans? According to the Centers for Disease Control, there’s not much risk to that.
According to the CDC’s March 7 updates, the H5N1 bird flu poses a low risk to the public. As such, it’s “primarily an animal health issue.”
Only those who work closely with infected poultry or engage in recreational contact with birds are at higher risk of infection.
The USDA says that you can’t get avian flu from eating poultry or eating eggs that are properly prepared and cooked. “All poultry products for public consumption are inspected for signs of disease both before and after slaughter,” the USDA note
This Time, Impact On Chicken Prices Depends on Severity of Outbreaks
The impact on chicken prices this time will depend on how widespread the bird flu epidemic goes. This is according to Ron Kean, poultry science expert at the University of Wisconsin – Madison Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences.
“In 2015, we did see quite an increase in egg prices,” he said. “The chicken meat wasn’t severely affected at that time. We did see quite a loss in turkeys, so turkey prices went up. So, we’ll see. If a lot of farms contract this, then we could see some real increases in price.”
Watch Lisa Cabrera’s YouTube Channel video where she discusses that Avian Flu Is driving up chicken prices:
What do you think about the ongoing bird flu outbreaks in major poultry producing states? Will this be enough for you to lessen your consumption of chicken?
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