22/01/2019

Chickenomics

In the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, pork and beef consumption has remained unchanged since 1990. Chicken consumption has grown by 70%. Humans gobble so many chickens that the birds now count for 23bn of the 30bn land animals living on farms. According to a recent paper by Carys Bennett at the University of Leicester and colleagues, the total mass of farmed chickens exceeds that of all other birds on the planet combined. In London, fried-chicken shops are ubiquitous. Many are named after American states (including Kansas and Montana, not to mention Kentucky). But schoolchildren and late-night partiers are unfazed by the strange names. Nor do they worry much about where their meal came from. And why should they? Chicken is cheap and delicious. A pound of poultry in America now costs $1.92, a fall of $1.71 since 1960 (after adjusting for inflation). Meanwhile the price of beef has fallen by $1.17 a pound to $5.80.

This extract is from our International section.