According to research commissioned by the National Chicken Council (NCC) and conducted by market intelligence company ORC International, nine in 10 American consumers purchase chicken on a regular basis. Eighty-four percent of shoppers claimed to eat a chicken meal or snack purchased from a supermarket, with 67% confessing to eating a chicken meal or snack from a foodservice establishment.
“The US Department of Agriculture projects Americans will eat close to 92 pounds of chicken per person this year, breaking last year’s record of 91 pounds,” said NCC senior vice-president of communications Tom Super.
“Although consumers’ self-reported consumption is down slightly in the survey, the data show that chicken is still top of mind for consumers.”
Gen Y twice as likely to buy pre-cooked poultry
The survey showed that consumers’ taste for chicken shows no signs of slowing. In the next year, 21% of consumers said they expected to eat more chicken from the supermarkets, while 13% said they anticipated they would eat more from a foodservice establishment. It tends to be younger consumers from more ethically diverse backgrounds, who live in larger households, who eat the most.
When quizzed as to what the most important factors were that make their chicken satisfactory, freshness, taste and price came top of the list in both the supermarket and foodservice channels.
The research concluded that there was a generational shift when it came to eating habits. Whilst Gen Xers and Baby Boomers were more likely to purchase cooked or precooked chicken and eat it in their homes, Millennials were twice as likely to buy pre-cooked chicken and eat it in the store.
Health and welfare also came into play when participants were questioned about their buying habits: 69% said they were extremely or very concerned about food safety, with 57% identifying hormone or steroid use and 55% labelling antibiotic use as reasons for concern.
Just over a quarter (26%) said they were extremely or very concerned about the time it took to raise a chicken, compared to 19% in 2016. Chicken’s image in the media isn’t necessarily doing the meat many favours. Almost three-quarters said they had seen articles in the past year where the coverage was branded as either neutral or negative.
A key factor in chicken being favoured over other meats is its health benefits, versatility and convenience. However, there is still a knowledge gap into what the consumer actually knows about chicken. When asked if they could identify statements about the care and raising of chickens as true or false, the majority of participants answered incorrectly.