America’s Taste for Chicken Continues to Grow, Survey Shows

America’s taste for chicken continues to grow and diversify, according to new survey data from the National Chicken Council.

Overall, 90 percent of adult American consumers ate chicken at least once in the two weeks prior to the survey conducted in June, up from 86 percent indicated by a similar survey in 2001.

American consumers eat chicken an average of five times in a two-week period, according to the nationwide survey conducted by PKS Research Partners of Edison, NJ, an increase from the four times reported in 2001.

“The survey offers encouraging indications that Americans are eating chicken more frequently and are enjoying a wider variety of chicken products,” said Steve Kernen, vice president for sales and marketing of Amick Farms, a chicken company based in Batesburg-Leesville, SC, who presented the result to a chicken industry marketing seminar here today. “The market penetration levels for both retail grocery and foodservice channels are impressive.”

Four out of five respondents (81 percent) ate chicken purchased at a grocery store. Two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) reported eating chicken at a restaurant at least once in the two-week period, up from 63 percent in a survey taken in 2001. On average, respondents to the survey had eaten chicken at a restaurant or other foodservice operation, including fast food, on two occasions in the two weeks just before the survey was taken. This is an increase from the 1.7 times noted in the 2001 survey.

The types of chicken products Americans enjoy have gone far beyond the traditional roasted or fried chicken. Fresh salad with chicken was the most popular item on a list of products tested in the survey, with 35 percent of respondents saying they purchased it in the last month, followed by chicken strips (30 percent), spicy or Buffalo-style chicken wings (26 percent), chicken nuggets (25 percent), fast-food chicken sandwich (25 percent), frozen chicken entree or meal (24 percent), and chicken breakfast biscuit (six percent).

Retail grocery stores are leading in the battle for market share in the rotisserie category, with 28 percent of respondents reporting that they purchased hot, rotisserie-roasted chicken at a grocery story, supermarket, or warehouse club store in the past month. Some 17 percent reported buying the same product at a fast-food store or other restaurant.

The South is still a stronghold of chicken fans, with residents of the region eating an average of 5.7 chicken meals or snacks in the two weeks just before the survey was conducted in June. The Northeast was the next strongest region, with an average of 5.3, followed by the West with 4.4 and the Midwestwith 4.0.

The survey identified some differences in eating preferences by sex. Some 31 percent of men reported eating spicy or Buffalo-style wings, compared to 22 percent of women. On the other hand, women are more likely to eat salads containing chicken: 39 percent compared to 30 percent of men.

The survey, sponsored by the trade magazine Watt Poultry USA, was conducted by telephone June 3-5 with 1,004 respondents aged 18 years and older. The margin for error in such a survey is plus or minus 3 percent in 95 out of 100 cases. A presentation on the survey will be posted to the web site

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, consumption of chicken has grown over the years, with American consumers expected to purchase about 89 pounds of chicken on a retail weight basis in 2005. Consumption has more than doubled in the last 30 years. In 1975, the consumption figure stood at 39 pounds per capita.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States .

Chicken Products Eaten in the Past Month

35% – Fresh salad that contains chicken
30% – Chicken strips
28% – Hot rotisserie-roasted chicken from a grocery store, supermarket, or warehouse club
26% – Spicy or buffalo chicken wings
25% – Chicken nuggets
25% – Fast food chicken sandwiches
24% – Frozen chicken entree or meal
17% – Rotisserie-roasted chicken from a fast-food store or other restaurant
6% – Chicken breakfast biscuit

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Address media inquiries to: Tom Super

Senior Vice President of Communications

[email protected] 202-443-4130