Strong Outlook for Poultry

The U.S. market for poultry products experienced steady, but moderate growth between 2007 and estimated 2012 and is expected to continue growing at this pace into 2017, driven by rising poultry consumption. Also factoring into sales growth is the consumers’ desire for nutritious foods that help them maintain healthy weight, according to new research from Mintel on the U.S. poultry market.

In addition, Mintel’s research revealed that ethnic consumers appear more likely than white consumers to eat poultry, and the population of Hispanic, black and Asian consumers is set to grow more quickly than the population of white consumers, which should drive future growth.

Chicken continues to grow as a popular sandwich meat. The number of U.S. menu items with poultry as an ingredient has climbed an average of 12% in the past three years, according to Mintel, and is expected to continue to increase in the next two years. But chicken’s edge is not due to consumer demand alone. With commodity prices on the rise, especially the price of beef, foodservice operators are turning to “premium” chicken positioning to defray high ingredient prices in 2013.

Interestingly, sales of turkey, duck and other specialty birds grew a considerable 6.5% in just one year, reaching $7.1 billion (2011-12), according to new research from Mintel. The popularity of heritage turkeys and a growing shift away from red meat for health and
economic reasons were cited as factors.

Growing from $6 billion in 2008, other poultry products, largely consisting of turkey, grew the most in this category. Moreover, more than eight in 10 (84%) Americans say they eat turkey; chicken is eaten by 94%.

“If other poultry products, like turkey, want to continue their impressive growth and not just be seen as the festive centerpiece, they will need to provide the level of innovation that is being seen in the chicken parts segment,” said John Frank, category manager for Mintel’s Food and Drink division. “As for the poultry market as a whole, it’s not surprising that chicken parts make up the majority of sales—they represent an attractive option for shoppers who want a convenient and healthy choice for quick dinners, while whole chickens take a substantial amount of time to prepare and culinary know-how.”

Playing Chicken
Today, poultry in the U.S. is valued at $30 billion (2012), with chicken parts accounting for 58% of the total poultry market. Worth $17.3 billion in 2011, sales of chicken parts grew 4.5% year on year. Meanwhile, whole chickens weren’t chicken scratch, with sales of $5.5 billion in 2012, an increase of 0.6% over 2011.

Poultry in general might also start pulling in some consumers from the red meat market. Nearly four in 10 (38%) U.S. consumers say they have increased their consumption of poultry in the last year, peaking among younger adults, with 43% of those aged 18-24 eating more versus 36% of the most senior consumers ( aged 65+)
While chicken sandwiches, rotisserie chickens, strips and nuggets are among the most popular varieties of chicken sold at retail, wings remain among the most popular option, especially around special events like the Super Bowl.

According to the National Chicken Council’s 2013 Wing Report, more than 1.23 billion wing portions were estimated to be consumed during Super Bowl weekend in January.

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