Chicken Fat For Fuel

Cindy Zimmerman

Tyson Chickens could provide a cheaper feedstock for biodiesel than soybeans.

A new biodiesel plant being constructed in Southeast Missouri plans to refine chicken fat from a nearby Tyson plant into the fuel, according to an Associated Press report.

Today, only a fraction of U.S. biodiesel is made from chicken fat, but that seems likely to change. The rising cost of soybean oil — which accounts for about 90 percent of all biodiesel fuel stock — is pushing the industry to exploit cheap animal fats.

The nation’s biggest meat corporations have taken notice. Tyson announced in November that it had established a renewable-energy division that will be up and running later this year. Competitors Perdue Farms Inc. and Smithfield Foods Inc. are making similar moves.

Soybean oil currently is about 33 cents a pound, while chicken fat is only 19 cents.