So far, 2013 has been a painful year in news chicken. First, two men allegedly stole 26,000 pounds of chicken wings earlier this month of a storage facility in Georgia. (The starters remain free stolen, CBS News reported on Monday morning.) Last week, a report by the National Chicken Council, which announced a 1 percent decline in chicken production during 2012-generated hysteria online and through football fans nationwide feared their viewing parties would be devoid of buffalo wings on Super Bowl Sunday. If the doomsayers poultry reading at the end of the report, they would have seen this important detail: “Consumers should not worry about the lack of wings on Super Bowl Sunday or in the near future.”
Bloomberg Businessweek spotted Bill Roenigk, chief economist of the National Chicken Council, to discuss the realities of the chicken industry.
So you’re an economist chicken?
The National Chicken Council is primarily a lobbyist. While I am not a lobbyist, to analyze some of the regulations or laws, you begin to ask: What is the economic impact? It will cost a little money or a lot of money? That’s where I spend my time. I’ve been on the board since 1974. Before that he worked at the Department of Agriculture. At first, I did not want to get into the poultry industry. I grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, so it was more comfortable with the animals of the bovine species and had some tunnel vision.
Please talk a little about the use of the wings in the U.S.
When you look at the whole chicken consumption, Middle Atlantic States are around 5-6 percent above average. The west coast is only 1 to 2 percent above average. Cowboy country Wyoming, Montana, the country’s livestock is the most soft consumption. Weekend Super Bowl is almost 5 percent of annual consumption.
So, hypothetically, the worst result for the chicken industry would have two teams in the land of Cowboys Super Bowl.
If Boise had a professional football team or Cheyenne-not be so excited.
What else are you threatened by? Vegans?
He has been very consistent in our surveys over the past 10 years that only 5 to 6 percent of consumers say they do not eat chicken at all. Our greatest threat: We have to have a great harvest of corn and a soybean crop this year [as these are the key ingredients in food]. If you look at the drought index, it gives us all great concern. We have an inventory of corn to a call because of the drought last year. The cost of feed ingredients would be high.
So we’re safe for the Super Bowl, but the offer could be tight next year if there are problems with food?
That is our biggest concern.
If there is a shortage of chicken in the United States, can we import them?
We import poultry meat from Canada and Chile. However, production costs are high in Canada, and Chile, transportation costs would negate any cost advantage that would. If you’re eating wings, can be 100 percent sure that the U.S. is a wing, with the possible exception of Hawaii. Supermarkets have to say where they came from.
We raise chickens to have more breast meat, so maybe Americans would settle for imposters “boneless wings”?
We love the boneless wings. Breast strips are flavored to taste like traditional bone, skin, wings. Some restaurants we say 15-20 percent of their “wings” sales are boneless. I prefer the traditional wings. Call me old fashioned.