Pilgrim’s Pride, a leading US chicken company, unexpectedly overproduced meat at the end of last year, resulting in a surprise quarterly loss, according to CEO Fabio Sandri.

The company, which is mostly owned by meatpacking giant JBS SA, was caught off guard by lower beef and pork supplies driving up demand for chicken, much like rival Tyson Foods.

Despite the loss, shares in Pilgrim’s rose 5% as the company stated its expectation for a decrease in beef supplies later in the year and a shift towards chicken consumption.

The company ramped up chicken production by increasing the number of eggs put into incubators, leading to a 20% rise in big bird and case-ready chicken production.

However, this surplus led to a drop in chicken prices and “total protein availability much higher than anticipated.”

Rabobank predicts chicken prices will remain below last year’s levels in the first half of 2023 but will trend upwards in the second half.

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