America’s game of chicken

Stacey Vanek Smith Mar 26, 2014
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Ariane Daguin demonstrates the proper way to carve a chicken. Daguin is the CEO of D'Artagnan, a company that supplies organic, free range chickens to grocery stores and restaurants. Stacey Vanek Smith

America’s game of chicken

Stacey Vanek Smith Mar 26, 2014
Ariane Daguin demonstrates the proper way to carve a chicken. Daguin is the CEO of D'Artagnan, a company that supplies organic, free range chickens to grocery stores and restaurants. Stacey Vanek Smith
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Where’s the beef?

As a nation, we might really need to know that. For the first time in more than a century, Americans are eating more chicken than beef. Why is poultry taking flight?

“People are more conscious about health, and so they will eat red meat a little less often and white meat more often,” says Ariane Daguin, CEO of D’Artagnan, which sells organic, free-range chicken to high end restaurants and grocery stores all over the country. Her business is growing 15 percent per year, a lot of that is thanks to rising chicken demand.

But a lot of the reason for the rising popularity of chicken has to do with beef.

“The real trade-off that we’re seeing in consumption is escalation in poultry and decline in beef,” says Don Close, cattle economist with Rabo AgriFinance. Beef prices have skyrocketed and are expected to jump by as much as 15 percent this year. (Here’s a look at why that’s happening)

“We saw pretty heavy substitution on the part of consumers, substituting ground beef for ground chicken and thereby driving up the prices of those products,” says Ricky Volpe, economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chicken prices are expected to rise by about 10 percent this year. Even still, chicken will remain far cheaper than beef and pork. 

But even if beef prices come back down, Ariane Daguin doesn’t think Americans will go back to beef.

“It is not a trend,” she says. “Trend means there is an end to it. There is no end to good food. People in America are more and more conscious that you are what you eat.”

And right now, that’s chicken.

 

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