Chicken prices rise just 1.5% a year

Food prices are rising faster than a well-beaten souffle, but one category has stayed affordable: the humble chicken.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 29 Oct 2015

Over the last two decades, poultry prices have risen slower than any other food category, reckons new research by the British Poultry Council. Of 35 different food categories, the cost of chicken - in all its various guises - has increased at half the average rate, up a total of 30.9% in 20 years.

Since April 1993, poultry prices have risen by just 1.5% a year, well below the retail price index which has gone up by 76.9% over the same period. Over the last two decades, lamb prices have risen by 108.7%, fish by 96.1%, pork by 95.3% and beef has increased by 50.8% (when it's not horse).
Interestingly, as rates of inflation are higher outside the food sector, recent research by Shelter has also revealed that if food costs had risen in line with house prices since 1971, a roast chicken would now have a £51 price tag. However, as of April 2013, consumers only have to shell out around £4.59 for a chicken purchased at a supermarket.

Of course, there is a grisly reality behind the continued low cost of chicken - production prices have remained extremely low, often as a result of intensive farming. There has also been a huge amount of consolidation in the industry: in 1993, over 20 companies contributed 90% of poultry production in the UK, down to just five companies in 2013. At the same time production levels have gone up by 25%.

But ultimately, us Brits just live to wolf down feathered beasts of all shapes and sizes (although MT reckons the rate of sparrow ingestion is still fairly small). At the moment, 49% of all meat consumed in the UK is from the poultry sector. It's a bad time to be a British bird...

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