Ethanol takes on chicken in Super Bowl tussle

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2013- Ethanol supporters challenged assertions from the National Chicken Council about the impact of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) on the domestic chicken wing supply in a Super Bowl-inspired battle of words this week.

According to the National Chicken Council's 2013 Wing Report, more than 1.23 billion wing portions will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend this year.

However, Super Bowl wing consumption is down about one percent, or 12.3 million wings, compared to last year, according to the NCC. The group's chief economist and market analyst, Bill Roenigk, said chicken companies produced fewer birds in 2012, not due to declining demand, but “in large part” due to record high corn and feed prices.

“Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons:  last summer's drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol,” said Roenigk. “Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced.”

However, ethanol group Growth Energy said the NCC's statement qualified as “deliberate misinformation” and called it “un-sportsman like conduct” in a recent statement.

The energy advocates called “penalties” on the NCC, including “roughing the facts” for stating that 40 percent of the corn crop is used for biofuel production. Growth Energy maintains that a net of 17 percent of the corn crop is used for renewable fuel production, “as the production of biofuels has a co-product, distillers grains.”

Among other “penalties,” Growth Energy called a “personal foul” on the chicken representatives for “trying to blame the ethanol industry for increased commodity costs…the true culprit is Mother Nature.”

The energy group also opposed referring to the RFS as a mandate, “when in fact it has reduced our dependence on foreign oil and increased our energy security.”

In its chicken wing survey, the NCC estimated that overall in 2013 more than 13.25 billion chicken wings will be marketed as wings. (The actual number of wing portions sold will be an estimated 26.5 billion, because the majority of wings are cut into two segments or portions, the NCC noted.)

“This is about a two-percent decrease from 2012, reflecting chicken production estimates for 2013,” stated the NCC.

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