Wholesale Chicken Prices Rising Fast

Along with beef and pork, wholesale chicken prices are rising fast with the national composite weekly price now above the 2015-2019 average.

Data from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and compiled by the Livestock Marketing Information Center showed a composite price last week of 101.95 cents a pound, the highest of the year and up 2 cents, or 2.00%, from 99.95 cents the previous week.  The new level also was up 51.95 cents, or 103.9%, from 50 cents a pound in the same week a year ago and up 2.232 cents, or 2.24%, from the previous five-year average of 99.718 cents.




Turkey prices also were up from last year and the 2015-2019 average, but the trend was following seasonal norms.  The average composite price last week was 113.4 cents a pound, up 0.4 cent, or 0.35%, from 113 cents a week earlier and up 9.4 cents, or 9.04%, from last year’s 104 cents and up 14.406 cents, or 14.6%, from the previous five-year average of 98.994 cents.

Wholesale turkey prices didn’t suffer the same economic trauma as beef, pork or chicken in last year’s pandemic.  There was no discernable drop in this market, which tended to make slow and steady gains from the 2015-2019 average throughout the year.

This year’s turkey prices picked up where 2020 left off and have risen through the weeks so far this year.  Extrapolation would say the price differences would continue through the year.




Chicken breast prices began the year below last year and the previous five-year average but quickly rose above both, where they have remained through last week.  What is notable, though, is that breast prices have spiked in the last three weeks.

Last week’s wholesale price for chicken breasts was 177.03 cents a pound, up 8.49 cents, or 5.04%, from 168.54 cents the previous week and up 89.69 cents, or 102.7%, from 87.34 cents last year and up 44,706 cents, or 33.8%, from the 2015-2019 average of 132.324 cents.

It is not common for chicken breast prices to pop in April, having made all their grilling-season gains in March.  Last year’s drop in April can’t be counted since it was linked to massive shutdowns in an effort to control COVID-19.

Chicken leg quarters, at 42.22 cents a pound last week, were down 2.24 cents, or 5.04%, from 44.46 cents a week earlier but were up 6.75 cents, or 19.0%, from last year’s 35.47 cents and up 4.81 cents, or 12.9%, from the 2015-2019 average of 37.41 cents.




Fed cattle traded this week at $118 to $120 per cwt on a live basis, down $1 to $4 from last week.  Dressed-basis trading was at $191 per cwt, down $1 to $4.

The USDA choice cutout Thursday was up $1.26 per cwt at $293.76, while select was up $0.79 at $279.79.  The choice/select spread widened to $13.97 from $13.50 with 105 loads of fabricated product and 20 loads of trimmings and grinds sold into the spot market.

The USDA reported Thursday that basis bids for corn from livestock feeding operations in the Southern Plains were unchanged at $1.04 to $1.18 a bushel over the May CBOT futures contract, which settled at $7.02 a bushel, up $0.15 3/4.

There were five heifer and 14 steer delivery intentions posted against the Apr live cattle futures contract Thursday.  There were four heifer and two steer contracts retendered at one.  None were demanded or reclaimed.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $135.07 per cwt unchanged.  This compares with Thursday’s Apr contract settlement of $134.47 per cwt, up $0.60 and May’s $135.85, up $0.87.