Chicken is about to get more expensive

Jul 9, 2014 16:44 UTC

American chickens are having some trouble reproducing. A key breed of chickens commonly raised for industrial poultry production has a genetic defect that causes low fertility in birds that are overfed, which reduces the supply available and pushes up prices, Reuters reports.

This comes at a time that both pork and beef prices have spiked as well, meaning this is going to be an expensive summer for meat:


The long-run average growth in chicken production is 4 percent, but this year the the Department of Agriculture is only predicting a 1 percent increase over 2013.

The breeder “has replaced the breed suffering from fertility issues with a new breed, and is mating it with the same type of hens,” according to Reuters. The full shift to the new breed, and therefore hopefully a drop in prices, should be completed by the fall.

Beef, consolidated

Jun 12, 2014 16:36 UTC

Do you know where the meat in your hamburger came from? It’s sort of trick question, because even if you don’t know, it’s pretty easy to guess. Roberto Ferdman reported yesterday that the top four meat packers in the United States — Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill, and National Beef — control 75% of the nation’s beef supply. Most of that consolidation happened in the 1980s, but the big four have been slowly adding to their market share in the last decade:


Ferdman explains why this matters:

Consumers are becoming increasingly more concerned with how their meat is produced. Part of that is born from a demand for more humane practices—the meat industry’s malpractices are well documented—and part of that stems from a heightened awareness about what people are putting into their bodies—the meat industry has come under fire for both its questionable practices and potential for large-scale contamination. An ever-shrinking pool of options will only make it more difficult for consumers the fair opportunity to appropriately decide whom they do business with.



This article seems to have an “alarmist” tone to it. Beef packing is a very labor and capital intensive business. Modern refrigeration and low cost transportation encourage consolidation in this industry. Additionally, the dozens of beef packing plants run by the big four packing houses are all USDA inspected by hundreds of reliable and well trained meat inspectors. The fear of “large scale contamination” is unwarranted. American beef is the best and cleanest in the world, hands down.

Additionally, the article fails to note that most beef comes to the packers through a vast network of thousands of individual ranchers who each own from a few to thousands of cattle. The underlying strength of America’s beef industry is that cadre of ranchers who take the risk of raising beef at small margins for a hungry nation. Further, over 25 percent of beef still comes from literally hundreds of small beef packers around the nation. So, the horror of “an ever shrinking pool of options” is just harum-scarum designed to goad the uninformed to be afraid of their food supply.

I am not a rancher nor a beef packer, but I eat plenty of fresh beef, and I have a brain. All mature industries consolidate, there is nothing unusual about this trend. This is basic economics. I hope that the alarmist tone here is just part of the “snark” that Shane Ferro lists as one of her LinkedIn skills, and not a harbinger of more attacks on American industry. All in all, though, its a good article!

Posted by Tomtherailnut | Report as abusive

Visualizing America’s food waste

Jan 31, 2014 16:42 UTC

Americans waste almost 40% of the food produced here, mostly after it gets into the hands of consumers. A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows how much food is lost in various parts of the food distribution chain:

Dana Gunders, a scientist at the NRDC who wrote the report, comes up with two basic reasons why Americans waste so much food (the equivalent of $165 billion each year): 

The first is that food represents a small portion of many Americans’ budgets, making the financial cost of wasting food too low to outweigh the convenience of it. Second, there is the plain economic truth that the more food consumers waste, the more those in the food industry are able to sell.

Basically, says Gunders, food doesn’t feel like a scarce resource in the US, so we don’t think too hard about wasting it.

But the report also makes the point that it’s not all just consumers throwing food out. If you look at the production losses, fruits and vegetables are especially vulnerable to waste in the supply chain. It’s partially because so much is lost because of weather-related and economic threats. For example, we lose food when the temperature isn’t right on a refrigerated truck, or when products have to be cut and trimmed to look just right.

But mostly we lose food because we throw it out.

The full report can be found here.


The large amount of food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. We should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of perishable food items close to their expiration on supermarket shelves causes waste.
The consumer “Last In First Out” shopping behavior might be one of the weakest links of the fresh food supply chain.
Why not encourage efficient consumer shopping by offering him automatic and dynamic purchasing incentives for perishables approaching their expiration dates before they end up in a landfill?
The new open GS1 DataBar standard enables automatic applications that offer dynamic incentives for perishables approaching their expiration dates.
The “End Grocery Waste” application, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint. You can look this application up at EndGroceryWaste site.

Chicago, IL

Posted by Rod_Averbuch | Report as abusive
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