Time for KFC to start offering the chicken bailout bucket! Pilgrim’s Pride has announced that they’re taking a page from the auto industry and idling 3 chicken plants as consumers eat out less and look for lower cost alternatives to meat. [Reuters]

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  1. RedwoodFlyer says:

    There’s an O&Aesque comment that I’m itching to make….but I’d like to keep my commenting abilities, so I’m just typing this instead

    • racermd says:

      @ComcastRedwoodFlyer: Two things… What is “…a lower-cost alternative to meat”? And nowhere in the article was it mentioned that Pilgrim’s Pride has any direct connection to KFC.

      Just saying.

  2. sebadoh128 says:

    Don’t know about you guys but I am buying up all the Pork Brain futures…

  3. henrygates says:

    I thought chicken WAS the alternative. When you can’t afford steak, you eat chicken instead.

    • Saboth says:

      @henrygates:

      Now it’s cow brains.

    • Ryan H says:

      @henrygates:
      Depends on the cut. You can get decent steak for the same price as boneless/skinnless chicken. Sure you can get some chicken cuts really cheap, but there are parts of the cow they almost give away too.

    • TVarmy says:

      @henrygates: I think it means “alternative to meat” as in, gasp, vegetables. I remember when McDonald’s was facing a $1 double cheeseburger cost crisis, many people wondered why they didn’t try making an under-100% beef burger. It’s pretty common in the old days to make burgers that are more like meatloaf with bread and other stuff mixed in, and soy with the right flavor agents could probably be used along with ground beef to produce a convincing patty.

      Chicken, however, is probably harder to fake for fried foods. There are vegetarian chicken nuggets, but they imitate the ground, spongy, McNugget-style chicken. Fried chicken has layers of flesh that have variations in chew.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @TVarmy: Probably they mean rice and beans, and other complete, non-meat protein combos. (Peanut butter & whole wheat bread, etc.)

        • Julia789 says:

          @Eyebrows McGee: The old rule of thumb they taught my dad in the military years ago, was if you had very little money and had to choose only a couple of things from the market, get peanut butter and oranges (or chicken and oranges). That way you had protein to keep you strong, and vitamin C to prevent scurvy.

          In this economy, we may end up on the peanut butter and oranges diet! (If they can straighten out the whole contaminated peanut butter thing, otherwise it will be the chicken and oranges diet.)

          There were nutritionists on the news recently, volunteering to help poor people choose the best foods for their money. They recommended something similar. They noticed people were buying large packs of flour noodles and white bread, because they were cheap, but had very little nutritional value. They were showing people it was better to buy “less volume” but higher quality foods. Soybeans, peanut butter, eggs for protein, dried fruit for vitamin c, etc. It was kind of similar to the old military suggestions!

  4. Closed captioning provided by Homerjay says:

    “They can’t seriously expect us to swallow that tripe!”

  5. Skeetz says:

    This raises another question of mine.. when is fast food going to respond and lower prices? It’s over 6 bucks now for a big mac meal. And what’s with all these fast food places in the mall that don’t even include a drink and still you’re paying 7 bucks or more.. maybe they’re subliminally telling me to eat at home..

    • catnapped says:

      @Skeetz: Don’t hold your breath waiting.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Skeetz: The biggest sham behind the price of McDonalds is the perception that you can’t get food cheaper by making it on your own. Sure it might take a little work, but a really good burger can be made for (gasp) $2 or so. And I’m not talking about the dollar menu. Four burger patties are about $5 to $6. The buns are maybe $1.50 to $2. If burger patties are $6 (they’re usually around $5.25 for me at the local store), then we’re talking about $1.50 for the meat itself (which you can also get by forming your own patties, or buying them near expiration date) and a few cents for the bun. Cheese will be extra, sure, but when all is said and done, you can be sure that it’ll be tasty and not loaded with the grease of all the burgers before it.

      • Skeetz says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: “might take a little work” understatement lol.. but yeah i know what you mean

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @Skeetz: I don’t use a grill for burgers (condo complex won’t allow them) but they are perfectly juicy and great being cooked on a skillet. Half an hour to 40 minutes (depending on how you like them done and how hot your fire is) and you’ve got a great burger.

          I like experimenting with flavors too, which makes it less disappointing when they don’t work out. If I don’t like what I’ve made, it’s only $3 or so lost. If I go to a restaurant and get a burger I don’t like, it’s a minimum of $7 I’ve lost..and I’m still hungry.

  6. I_am_Awesome says:

    It’s silly to compare this to the auto industry. Of course they’re going to cut back production when they’re selling less.

    What bugs me is that their chicken strips suck now. Perhaps it’s just my local KFC, but now they’re substantially smaller than they used to be and they taste different.

  7. MaytagRepairman says:

    I’m puzzled. We eat a lot more at home these days and we do eat quite a bit of chicken. What would I eat if I couldn’t afford chicken? Grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwiches?

    I do however stay away from the chicken products that come already breaded. Since the trans fat scare I haven’t found a breaded chicken product in the stores any more that I like.

    • humphrmi says:

      @MaytagRepairman: I don’t know why they call this stuff hamburger helper. It does just fine by itself, huh?

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @MaytagRepairman: Rice and beans, and peanut butter sandwiches. Both will give you complete proteins. Basically you’d want a legume + whole grain combo to get you complete proteins at a lower cost than meat. (I think soy is actually the only complete plant protein but, ew, then you’d have to eat soy.)

      I suppose grilled cheese does too, from the cheese, but rice and beans is cheaper.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Eyebrows McGee: Learn to make your own bread. I still think making your own bread is more expensive than buying the bread, especially if all you require is a loaf of generic wheat or white bread. But for specialty breads (naan, foccaccia) it’s probably about the same cost to make your own as it is to buy. I just stay away from making anything with cheese as a main ingredient because cheese can get very expensive.

    • dvdchris says:

      @MaytagRepairman: Um, wow, are you serious? There’s a world of food you can make other than chicken or grilled cheese.
      I regularly make split pea soup, lentils and rice, couscous, tabouli, whole grain pasta w/marinara sauce, pita chips with hummus, basmati rice, not to mention the endless kinds of vegetable side dishes you can make with these.

  8. calquist says:

    I thought the bailout bucket was real :(

  9. Saboth says:

    Hmmm so less available chicken leads to more demand and less supply, so chicken goes up, and…less people eat chicken….

    Me…I love chicken. I swear I could eat it 2x a day, every day.

    • ludwigk says:

      @Saboth: Not quite:

      Recession = Less demand and same supply = price goes down.
      Pilgrim’s Pride cuts production = same “recession demand” but less supply = price comes back up

      But there’s no point where constricting supply creates demand here. Extreme artificial scarcity can lead to an increase in demand (i.e. diamonds), but chicken is never going to come to that.

      Now if Pilgrim’s pride responded to an increase in demand with a cutback in production (because they hate making money, for instance), we would end up in the spiral you described.

      • orlo says:

        @ludwigk: The recession means people can’t afford chicken, so the price drops to a level they can afford (granted this might be below the cost of production). Cutting the supply to raise the price will make chicken unaffordable again, until production is cut some more. This will continue until the chicken is sold at $1000/lb to government supported bankers and the proletariat is eating tree bark and cats.

  10. 2719 says:

    Chicken prices have nothing to do with this. I went to KFC once. That was it. Pricey fast food. These companies don’t get it. People want cheap prices. That’s all it matters. Their ‘value menu’ is a rip off. Those ‘snacker’ sandwiches are tiny.

    So screw the secret recipe or whatever, just reduce the price.

    • ludwigk says:

      @2719: KFC not only has relatively high prices for fast food, but they have the worst menu system of ANY restaurant ever.

      I can forgive them regarding the high prices. Their main product is chicken. When its fried right, the meat is of high quality. They’re working with very perishable product that isn’t as forgiving as ground meat.

      But the menu is subdivided into sections with columns, and addons, and tabs, and bubbles and different configurations – its like the visual equivalent of a brain aneurysm. It’s impossible to figure out how much a simple order is going to cost, or the best way to price it out.

      The best deals always involve buying about 4 people’s worth of food in a family meal special. When there’s a special, its like a 40% discount for the food in a *slightly* different configuration than the regular menu pricing, such as 2 sides and 4 biscuits instead of 3 sides. It’s total madness.

      Plus, they did the “dumb nomenclature” thing where their smallest size Popcorn Chicken was “Large” for quite a while. I think they just re-introduced “Snack” size, but I always ordered my GF the popcorn, and our conversation always went like this:

      Me: …and I’d like a LARGE popcorn chicken.
      KFC: You mean the small, right? The big one is “Family” size.
      ME: Yes, I’d like the LARGE size, small one.
      [brain explodes]

      • redkamel says:

        @ludwigk: +1, the conversation at the end +3

      • SarcasticDwarf says:

        @ludwigk: I totally agree. I go for their dark meat chicken and all macaroni and cheese sides. Trying to order that in the right combination is ridiculous.

        I would also add that my local KFC (meaning the only one within 100 miles) has the SLOWEST service I have ever seen. I have never been out of there in less than 15 minutes, even with the store empty and the food already prepared. Current record: 25 minutes

  11. Corporate-Shill says:

    Zaxby’s, Raising Cane’s and of course Popeyes are so much better than KFC.

    Yum. I am doing Chicken tonight.

  12. deleteboy says:

    Bet that there’s a few thousand chickens slapping high-fives right about now…

  13. orlo says:

    Nice of them to lay off workers and starve them. Chicken prices have been depressed for a while, and PP sees the opportunity to reduce supply in order to boost prices. Since people aren’t eating out as much they won’t mind paying 2x as much at the supermarket.

    What they seem to be forgetting, however, is that food riots will topple governments, and level corporations.

  14. 1stMarDiv says:

    Each time I’ve gone to a KFC it has ended in disgust. Most stores I’ve been to are in poor shape and the bathrooms rival that of a truckstop in terms of cleanliness.

  15. I love the Power Glove. It's so bad. says:

    Oh crap. My mom lives in Nacogdoches County (the county that exports more chicken than any other county in Texas) and there is a Pilgrim’s Pride there. If that place shuts down then you’re gonna see the city of Nacogdoches (oldest town in Texas) turn into a damn ghost town.

    • Corporate-Shill says:

      @I love the Power Glove. It’s so bad.:

      What % of local people are directly employeed by PP?

      • I love the Power Glove. It's so bad. says:

        @Corporate-Shill: To be honest with you, I’m not quite sure. I’d have to ask my mom (I live in Houston currently) but I know that very, VERY recently there was a huge ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) bust at the plant and had to shut it down for a few days. I’ll get back to you on the info. My aunt still works for them as a nurse and she was working there back when the plant was called Green Acres (insert joke here) but was then bought out by Pilgrim’s Pride.

        Tyson also has a large amount of chicken farms in Nac. county, any word on them?

    • lalaland13 says:

      @I love the Power Glove. It’s so bad.: I went to school in Nacogdoches, and while it would take a hit, I think they’d be OK as long as the university stayed open. I mean, the population would probably decline, you’re right there.

      But the plants closing are in Arkansas, Louisiana and Georgia, according to the linked story.

  16. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Once in a while, Mr. Pi and I come up with the grandiose notion that maybe we won’t get sick to our stomachs if we try KFC again…you know, maybe this year it’ll be different. Nope. Still disgusting.

  17. InThrees says:

    Congress can deliver the money in a concave round vessel, and we’ll call it a failure pile in a sadness bowl.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Strange but true
    Manchester – Three employees at the KFC store, 677 Daniel Webster Highway, were taken to a hospital Thursday afternoon for decontamination after an apparent hoax resulted in the release of a fire suppressant chemical.

    Cook Mary McCarthy said the store manager, Sonia Gilbert, received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the corporate office, telling her to test the fire suppression system. McCarthy said that resulted in the release of a chemical powder in the sandwich area where she and a third employee, Fay Owens, were working.

    As fire, health department and police investigated this afternoon, McCarthy stood outside the side door of the restaurant, wearing one jacket and using another as a skirt. Standing next to a pile of clothing on the ground, McCarthy said: “We had to strip out here.”

    Police Sgt. Todd Boucher said officers went to the restaurant in response to a call about a naked woman standing in a doorway. He said the caller had told the employees to go outside and strip and urinate on one another.

    Boucher said police are conducting an investigation into the incident.

  19. I love the Power Glove. It's so bad. says:

    Any word on how Tyson chicken is doing? They have a lot of chicken farms in Nac. county.

  20. TCTH says:

    It doesn’t matter what low cost substitute you find for meat… the food industry will simply raise the price on it until it costs as much as meat anyway.

    Kind of like we’ll have alternative energy when the energy industry can make as much as they do from oil or we’ll have a cure for Cancer when the medical industry can make as much by curing it as they do by treating it and so on.

    We have too damned many industries making too damned much money off too many damned things.

  21. N.RobertMoses says:

    According to the KFC advert I just saw, their chicken is provided by Tyson. Hooray for cross branding!

  22. EdenBabararacucudada says:

    “eating out less”, to me, means chinese food once a month has become KFC once a month. Anyone else in the same bucket?

  23. Avrus says:

    I stopped trying to eat at KFC months ago when their stores weren’t open past 6pm. That’s right, 6pm on a weekday.

    After speaking to the GM of two stores, I gave them a third chance, at which point the store had run out of chicken.