One cause of the price hike is that supply has decreased as a result of higher corn costs. While chicken feed consists of a variety of grains, corn and soybean meal, corn has become the dominant feed for cattle. According to the USDA, January 1, 2013 marked the "lowest Jan. 1 inventory of all cattle and calves since the 88.1 million on hand in 1952.” In the last two years, prices for cattle have risen by as much as 25 percent.
While American's are actually eating less meat overall -- from chicken to beef to pork -- the scale has finally tipped from greater consumption of beef to greater consumption of chicken. In 2012, Americans were eating almost 60 pounds of chicken per person each year. Chicken has become such a staple of the American diet that it's hard to imagine a time when we weren't eating much of it at all. The change has been dramatic, however. In the 1950s, Americans ate an average of 16 pounds of chicken per person every year. By 2000, that number grew to 53 pounds per year.