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Poultry holds strong as top commodity
By Karen Templeton
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – With an estimated production value of $2.3 billion in 2008, poultry remains Mississippi's No. 1 agricultural commodity.
“When following agricultural commodity trends for the past several years, we see that poultry stays at the top of the leader board,” said Vanessa Kretzschmar-McCluskey, an assistant professor of poultry science at Mississippi State University. “Poultry will likely remain a big producer as Mississippi ranks fourth in U.S. broiler production and 13th in egg production.”
John Anderson, agricultural economist with MSU's Extension Service, said he expects a 9 percent increase in the state's poultry value over 2007.
“We are predicting broilers to be worth $2.1 billion, an 8 percent increase from last year, and we'll likely see egg production up by 15 percent,” Anderson said.
The Mississippi poultry industry's success is due in large part to the demand within the United States for poultry and poultry products.
“Chicken is a wholesome, inexpensive meat that, if prepared correctly, can be low in fat,” Kretzschmar-McCluskey said. “Those qualities attract consumers.”
Kretzschmar-McCluskey said consumers' changing attitudes about eggs have contributed to increased production.
“Eggs used to be perceived as fatty and high in cholesterol,” she said. “But thanks to an enormous amount of research, consumers are realizing that eggs are full of essential vitamins, minerals and protein.”
There is also a large international demand for U.S. poultry and poultry products, allowing Mississippi's industry to maintain a strong export market. Mississippi exports poultry and poultry products to many countries, with Russia and Asian countries being the largest importers.
“It may surprise people that chicken paws, or feet, are one of the most heavily exported products,” Kretzschmar-McCluskey said. “These products are valued by many Asian countries where they are used in soups and stews.”
Mark Leggett, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, credited the responsiveness of the poultry industry for the constant growth in the market.
“Even with high feed and fuel costs, Mississippi's poultry industry has done well,” he said. “From the farm to the processors to the consumers and from the state ports to the rest of the world, the poultry industry has had a tremendous impact on the state's economy.”
The future of any commodity depends on its consumers, and Kretzschmar-McCluskey predicts that Mississippi's poultry industry will continue to rise to the challenge, even in these tough economic times.
“The future of the poultry industry is bright,” she said. “I have no doubt the industry will continue to do everything in its power to produce wholesome products at an affordable price.”