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Not everyone impacted by chicken shortage

It’s a headline that sent some in a panic - a nationwide chicken shortage.
It’s a headline that sent some in a panic - a nationwide chicken shortage.(WTOC)
Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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GEORGIA (WTOC) - It’s a headline that sent some in a panic - a nationwide chicken shortage.

WTOC’s Investigates Team wanted to know if it’s happening locally and why.

The spokesman for the National Chicken Council says reports of a chicken shortage are a bit of a stretch.

Tom Super says the supply is tight, but it’s nothing to panic about. If anything is low in supply, he says it’s the number of workers in chicken processing plants.

Customers are flocking to Ogeechee Meat Market in Savannah. Joining in on a nationwide chicken craze.

“I actually received a couple text messages and calls from friends saying ‘Hey! I went to the grocery store and they’re out. Do you have any chicken?’ So I was like ‘Yeah, we’ve got chicken. Come on down,” said General Manager Matthew McClune.

General Manager Matthew McClune says white meat and chicken wings have been popular with customers.

“Chicken wings and chicken breast are really close in price right now because of the high demand on them. That’s the first thing I’ve seen in almost 20 years.”

In the last month, McClune says, the meat market did experience a shortage of wings.

He attributed it to what leaders in the poultry industry are calling ”the perfect storm,” which includes businesses reopening and staffing shortages.

“You have the labor issues that are spanning the whole industry, and so they’re not being able to pump out as much as they’d like to.”

A major local chicken producer on the national stage confirmed labor issues have also impacted its Georgia-based plant.

Claxton Poultry’s spokesman says the lack of workers makes production difficult.

However, The National Chicken Council says production is ramping back up.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows broilers produced, or chickens raised for slaughter, were up 22-percent in April 2021 versus April 2020.

McClune, who is paying close attention to poultry production numbers, expects the demand to last but expects production should resume to a more normal pace soon.

“The good thing about poultry is that they’re usually pretty accessible. You could up their numbers pretty quickly. Hopefully within the next month or two months, we shouldn’t even be talking about this topic at all.”

The National Chicken Council, even McClune, believe the high chicken demand comes from recent “chicken sandwich wars” between popular fast food chains, such as Chick-fil-A and Popeyes. You also can’t forget the so-called “air fryer revolution,” which many people started turning to during the pandemic.

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