Iowa — A bird flu outbreak in the Midwest that's
boosted prices for eggs and roasting turkeys has actually
resulted in cheaper chicken in the U.S., as many countries
restrict imports of poultry products, the Department of
Agriculture said in a report released Tuesday.
bird flu has not found its way onto farms that raise
chickens for meat, lower exports mean plenty of chicken
available in the U.S., the agency said in its monthly report
on the poultry market.
this situation has done is increase the amount of broiler
products on the domestic market, boosting cold storage
holdings and resulting in placing downward price pressure on
a number of broiler products," the USDA said.
At the end
of April, 181 million pounds of leg quarters were in cold
storage, 80 percent more than last year. Leg quarters are
the largest chicken meat export product.
wholesale prices in the Northeast market for bulk leg
quarters averaged 34 cents per pound, 32 percent lower than
a year earlier. Prices for drumsticks were down 33 percent
and boneless/skinless thigh meat was down 19 percent, the
flu cost Minnesota, the leading turkey producer, 9 million
birds. Egg farms in Iowa, the nation's leading egg producer,
lost 25 million hens.
frequency of new cases has slowed dramatically, with no new
commercial barn cases in Minnesota in 11 days. Iowa went six
days without a new case until Tuesday, when Iowa agriculture
officials said a chicken farm with 1 million egg-layers
lowered its forecast for table egg production this year to
6.9 billion dozen, a 5.3 percent drop from 2014. Fewer eggs
created a supply shortage and higher prices. By late May,
the price for a dozen Midwest large eggs had soared 120
percent from their mid-April pre-bird flu prices to $2.62,
said Urner Barry, an industry analyst group. Prices began
falling last week and were at $2.22 a dozen on Tuesday.
Breaker eggs — those used in processed food and by bakers
for cakes and cookies — soared 273 percent at the peak and
have fallen only slightly in the last week.
production for this year is estimated at 5.6 billion pounds,
a 3 percent reduction from 2014, the USDA said. The
relatively small decrease is because production for the
first three months of the year was 7 percent higher than a
year ago, before the bird flu surfaced in the Midwest.
some turkey parts, including drumsticks, were lower than a
year ago in April, but boneless/skinless breast meat was 8
percent higher. Whole frozen hens often used for roasting
were 3 percent higher in May than the same month a year ago
at $1.09 per pound. They are expected to climb to as much as
$1.15 a pound in the third quarter.