Crying Fowl on the Chicken Council

Crying Fowl on the Chicken Council

Posted 24 January 2013 in


Big Food is running in circles to rehash old – and incorrect – claims about renewable fuel.

This time, it’s the National Chicken Council trying to scare football fans about the supply of chicken wings, and it’s déjà vu all over again: the industry repeatedly ignores the true drivers of food costs.

Despite the Chicken Council’s claims, the poultry industry hardly seems to be cutting back on feed and animal production.

According to market analysts, USDA estimates show more corn going to livestock and poultry feed, implying “that livestock and poultry producers used up more corn than earlier expected.” And, the same analysts noted, producers “do not seem to be cutting back but rather are increasing animal numbers” and animal weights.

Perhaps one reason is that far less of the corn crop is used in creating renewable fuel than the Chicken Council claims. Ethanol is produced from a different type of corn than the crop that people eat. This field corn, fed to livestock, delivers two beneficial products – the ethanol itself from the starch portion of the kernel – and the remaining part of the plant, with nutritious fiber, protein and more, is turned into valuable livestock feed.

(That feed, a beneficial co-product of creating renewable fuel, is increasingly being used by the poultry industry itself, because it packs more energy and protein than other feed sources.) When you look at both products, only 17% of the net corn crop goes to ethanol.

And it’s important to remember, the majority of food costs, nearly 84%, come from non-farm costs like marketing and energy costs. In fact oil prices ultimately drive food prices.

Whether you are rooting for the Ravens or the 49ers, Americans can enjoy their favorite food and the benefits of renewable fuel. The chicken lobby, meanwhile, should keep its eye on the ball and leave fans to enjoy the game.

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Crying Fowl on the Chicken Council

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