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East Texas Sanderson Farm plants doing well despite surge in chicken demand

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 10:53 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - According to the National Chicken Council, the demand for chicken, especially chicken wings, is climbing.

Sanderson Farms CFO Mike Cockrell has heard the news about that increase in demand, or the “chicken shortage,” but he wouldn’t call it a lack of chickens. He would call it more of an increase in demand by consumers.

“Everyone is describing it as a chicken shortage, as if there is a supply issue; really it is a demand issue,” said Cockrell. “We are producing as much chicken right now as we were producing this time a month ago or a month before that.”

He says the demand is surging because of the popularity of chicken wings and chicken sandwiches, as well as more people going back to restaurants, leading to more chicken being ordered. The Sanderson Farms plant in Tyler is seeing the full effects of that demand.

“That Tyler, Texas plant that produces product for the retail grocery stores is running full; we are producing everything we can there and it is operating very well and performing very well,” said Cockrell.

In the month of May last year, the other East Texas plant in Palestine, Texas saw their demand fall to zero because they produce for the food service market. Now that restaurant restrictions have eased, the plant has seen an uptick. Cockrell doesn’t believe prices will go up for the consumer. He believes they will see the same prices at grocery stores that they have already gotten for the year.

“The wholesale price, the price that those grocery stores are paying for product really hasn’t changed much; our company prices retail grocery store product for the full year,” said Cockrell.

Cockrell says he doesn’t believe the increase in price of chicken for restaurants will have an effect on the consumer. He doesn’t expect restaurants to raise their prices to make up for the difference.

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