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Posted: August 31, 2011 3:18 p.m.

Poultry costs up, worldwide demand down

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Poultry industry experts say operators are being squeezed by the rising costs of feed and fuel and a decline in demand.

Mike Lacy, head of the University of Georgia's poultry science department, said trade issues with China and efforts to raise more chickens in Russia mean the overseas market for U.S. exports has shrunk, the Athens Banner-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/qjsw7L).

People in developing countries are eating less protein as well, he said. "Our exports have gone down for those reasons, plus the worldwide economic situation. Supply and demand are a little out of whack."

Lacy said a 5-pound chicken eats nine pounds of feed in the six-and-a-half weeks it takes to grow to maturity.

Mike Giles, president of the Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation, said the cost of feed, which makes up more than half of poultry farmers' overhead, has risen by 70 percent over the past year. Nevertheless, the long-term outlook for Georgia's industry is good, Giles said.

Mexico has replaced China and Russia as the top market for Georgia poultry, and because chicken is not a common food in many countries, there is room for growth overseas, he said.

Giles said he expects demand for food to double by 2050. When it does, access to the port of Savannah means Georgia will be well-positioned to take advantage, he said.

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