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Restaurants Now Enduring Nationwide Chicken Shortage

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A nationwide chicken shortage is creating a challenge for restaurants as we head into the busy summer months.

Poultry experts say it's the result of the perfect storm of events over the last year.

"We just don't have quite enough chicken to meet the sudden demand," said Craig Coufal, Ph.D, Associate Professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialist.

Dr. Coufal said the poultry industry slowed down production when COVID-19 hit. But now chicken - and the economy - are hot again.

"You have kind of this smaller supply with this sudden, rapid demand for particularly white meat, breast meat, and wings here in the United States," he said. "It just takes time to get that production back to normal capacity."

Experts say the winter storm in February was another factor.

It halted production in some cases, forcing another challenge for the poultry plants.

The result? The price of chicken has soared.

At Palmer's Hot Chicken in Dallas, owner Palmer Fortune said it's something he's never experienced before.

He's paying around 40 to 45 percent more for white meat than previously, and that affects his company's margins.

"We don't believe in passing that price onto the customer. We try to absorb it in other ways," he said. "It does affect labor. We might not staff as many people."

He said he tries to get creative, offering specials, for example, on the higher-priced items. And, he said, he'll wait it out, hoping an adjustment in food costs is in the near future.

"It can't stay that way," he said. "If it does, the industry will adjust, right?"

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