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Chicken consumption continues to soar in the US

US chicken consumption remains high with 2016 levels surpassing those from the previous two years, according to new research presented at the 2016 Chicken Marketing Summit.

US chicken consumption remains high with 2016 levels surpassing those from the previous two years, according to new research presented at the 2016 Chicken Marketing Summit.

A survey was commissioned by the National Chicken Council and conducted online by ORC International 6-9 June 2016, among 1,017 adults.

Chicken eating habits

In the two weeks leading up to the survey, 87% of consumers ate a chicken meal or snack purchased from a supermarket and 72% ate a chicken meal or snack from a food service establishment. While supermarket numbers increased 2.4% and are now at parity with those seen in 2015, food service establishment consumption shows a noteworthy 7.5% increase from 2015.

Consumers' taste for chicken shows no signs of waning. In the next 12 months, 21% of consumers anticipate eating more chicken from the supermarket and 14% anticipate eating more from a food service establishment. In fact, according to US Department of Agriculture estimates, Americans will eat 92 pounds (41.7 kg) of chicken per person this year, a record amount.

Most consumed protein

"People are buying more chicken than last year and plan to buy more next year," said Tom Super, senior vice president of communications at the National Chicken Council. "Chicken tops the list of protein being consumed most often per week. And while retail sales continue to be strong, the survey shows that more people are eating chicken away from home, which is good news for chicken producers, food service establishments and the overall economy."

Consumers with the highest consumption levels tend to skew to younger, more affluent and ethnically diverse with larger households. Among gender, total chicken consumption was split right down the middle – 50% female/50% male.

Poultry freshness and taste

As part of the survey, consumers were asked to rank various factors on satisfaction and in order of importance. Regardless of purchase channel, freshness, taste and price rise to the top for both measures. Across the board, consumers are satisfied with freshness and taste. Satisfaction with price differs by channel with food service establishments experiencing moderate satisfaction levels while satisfaction with price at supermarkets is somewhat lower.

When it comes to sources of information, conventional sources such as the government, grocery stores, farmer/growers, butchers and brands are preferred. The appeal of sources such as blogs and celebrities are more limited. Trust is also a point of differentiation. Supermarkets garner reasonable levels of trust and, along with brands comprise the second tier of desired sources of information behind the government.

Antibiotics in chicken products

Consumers were asked if various claims would increase, decrease or have no impact on their likelihood to purchase their favourite chicken products. Overall, when asked to choose among various claims, consumers are most interested in knowing that no antibiotics were used in production of their food. As seen in last year's survey results, also of interest is understanding where chicken comes from – products labelled as locally raised or indicating country-of-origin on the label were the claims most likely to pique interest.

When prompted, 71% of consumers were extremely or very concerned about food safety, and 57% about hormone and steroid use, even though they are banned by federal law. Only 19% of respondents were extremely or very concerned about the time it takes to raise a chicken.

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