Abilene restaurants paying more for poultry as prices spike

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Some Abilene restaurants say several factors are forcing them to spend more on chicken than they are accustomed to.

The price of poultry has risen across the U.S. not only due to COVID-19, but because of the winter storm and a lack of workers, some experts say. 

“So, really it boils down to a supply and demand issue,” says Steve Estes, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent.

You might notice some price increases on chicken around town, whether it be at restaurants or the grocery store. 

“Our poultry has gone up significantly,” said Alex Russell, owner of The Local. 

Estes says there are three main reasons for the increase: the winter freeze, large unemployment numbers, and higher prices of other meats. 

“They lost a lot of chickens from that, mainly because of the power outages and then the cold temperatures,” said Estes. “A shortage of workers, labor force within the processing facilities, a lot of people are choosing to purchase and consume more chicken products.”  

Russell says her restaurant has noticed that impact. 

“We’re at 68 cents a pound more right now than we normally are month over month from April to May,” said Russell.

The higher prices are costing them about $200 extra a month to keep up with the 80 pounds of chicken they order per week, Russell says. 

“You know, we’re not comfortable passing on unknown costs like that to our customers, we feel like it’s the cost of doing business,” said Russell.

That cost ends up being an extra $2,500 a year to adjust to the ebb and flow of the meat industry.

“Twenty-five hundred dollars a year is a significant sponsorship for a nonprofit, or one of the missions we like to support, so I think that’s where we’re going to see the hurt,” said Russell. 

Russell says they are just happy to be back in full swing after COVID-19 restrictions, so they are willing to front those costs. 

Estes says when people go back to work and the processing plants are at full force, we can see the prices start to even out again. 

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