The Delaware Poultry Industry reports that the state's chicken production has dropped by 18 million birds since last year. Officials call the drop a market correction, reports the Cape Gazette.

Two of the state's poultry processors, Townsends Inc. and Allen Family Foods, went bankrupt last year. The Townsends bankruptcy did not affect production that much, as the bulk of the company's production had moved to North Carolina. The Allen bankruptcy did have an affect, says Bill Satterfield, director of the Delmarva Poultry Industry.

“When Allen filed for bankruptcy, many growers were concerned, so they started growing for other companies to protect themselves,” Satterfield said. “When Harim took over Allen, production was lower, but my understanding is they will ramp it up soon. Then maybe they will get former growers back or hire new growers.”

Harim is a South Korean processor that took over Allen's Harbeson and Cordova production sites, now called Allen Harim Foods. According to the Allen Harim Foods website, the company is hiring for additional shifts and plans to increase production by the end of the year, which means Delaware production will be ramping up in the future.

The Harbeson site is producing case-ready tray packs of broiler chickens, and is producing a new 1.5-pound boneless breast pack targeting customers looking for convenience items.

Poultry production also fluctuated in neighboring states, with Virginia reducing its output and Maryland increasing the number of birds produced. Satterfield said high corn prices last year led to many bankruptcies and sales among chicken companies across the nation.

“Last year was a bad year for the whole chicken industry,” Satterfield said. “As far as Maryland increasing its chicken production, it likely is a matter of building a few new chicken houses and some houses retiring in Delaware.”

Source: Cape Gazette