Cost of chicken could rise 70% as inflation hits farmers from all sides

Travis Malloy tosses feed to his hens that he says now cost 20% more to feed than last year.

The trickle-down effect of rising prices is easy enough to trace, and in most cases can be traced back to fuel prices. For Malloy, organic, soy-free feed made from peas and wheat is shipped from Virginia. The cost of everything from farming the ingredients to shipping the product is reliant on fuel.

"We’re dependent on everything else out there," Malloy said. "You have to feed them, and they eat a lot! And the price of grains is going up everywhere."

When Malloy's vendors raise their prices, he has to raise his, too. It's no surprise to him that the "Protein Inflation Report" from research company Evercore ISI shows the price of chicken breasts increasing as much as 70%. 

The report says ground beef and pork could see an increase of 20%, but steak prices are expected to remain level due to decreasing demand.

US INFLATION REPORT: Consumer prices jumped 8.5% in past year, highest since 1981

However, the sharp rise in poultry prices isn't solely related to fuel costs.

Recent sanctions on Russia, a major exporter of fertilizer, have disrupted shipments of nutrients used to fertilize the feed Malloy feeds his chickens, leaving growers in every corner of the world scrambling to adjust.

"I used to spend 20,000 Kenyan shillings, about $175 for fertilizer for the whole farm, but now it will go up to 100,000 Kenya shillings, about $875," said Monica Kariuki, a farmer in Kenya. "What I can see is that I cannot continue with the farming business."

Malloy says buying local may be a money-saver as prices rise.

"We’re super local, so the chickens go right from here to the store, so we cut a lot of the costs in that way, so I think our price increases are lower," he said.

And while he says it hurts to raise costs, loyal customers are priceless.

"I’ve got the best customers in the world. They don’t fuss at all. I’ve raised prices two weeks ago, and I’ve noticed sales have dropped a little bit, but not much at all," he said.