What’s behind the poultry shortage in the US?

Increased demand for fried chicken in sandwiches, nuggets and tenders is fuelling a poultry shortage, say industry insiders.
calendar icon 30 April 2021
clock icon 3 minute read

Food service outlets across the United States like KFC, Bojangles and Popeyes say that they are struggling to meet the soaring demand for their fried chicken offerings. Many have reported shortages and outages of fried chicken in recent weeks.

“We’re experiencing a system-wide shortage. But they will be back soon,” Bojangles’ corporate Twitter account wrote earlier this week after a frustrated customer complained about not being able to order chicken tenders.

Demand for fried chicken has ramped up since 2019 after Popeyes introduced a new sandwich and ignited “the sandwich wars”. Yum! Brands Inc and McDonald’s Corp moved quickly to offer their own creations, and report that their fried chicken sandwiches are beating revenue forecasts.

“Demand for the new sandwich has been so strong that, coupled with general tightening in domestic chicken supply, our main challenge has been keeping up with that demand,” Yum Chief Executive Officer David Gibbs said Wednesday in a conference call.

Poultry processors have struggled to keep up with the demand from fast food restaurants. Recruiting and maintaining staff at processing plants has also been a challenge for industry giants like Pilgrim’s Pride.

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