The costly soybeans and higher-priced organic products are fueling food inflation at a time consumers are eager to eat better and focus on health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The $56 billion U.S. organic food sector is also grappling with a shortage of shipping containers and a tight labor market as global food prices hit a 10-year high.
Food companies and chicken producers are experiencing bigger sticker shock from prices for organic soybeans, which are shipped in containers, than for the conventional crops shipped in bulk. Regular soy prices are around a seven-year high, rather than an all-time record.
Organic chicken producers are cutting corporate expenses to offset high feed costs and scrambling to source crops produced in the United States rather than abroad. The U.S. imports about 70% of its organic soybeans, according to industry estimates, and U.S. organic production has not increased enough to keep pace with growing demand.