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Flying High: Foodservice Poultry Sales Soar

219_Honey-mustard-chicken-1_175x175At a time when a shift away from staples toward ever-greater variety seems to have become the norm, chicken rules the roost when it comes to consumers’ favorite protein, according to survey results from market research firm Datassential.1

But true to the foodservice trend of culinary experimentation, same-old, same-old chicken seems to have flown the coop, as shown by the rise of brined chicken, which has risen 182% over the past four years.2

Consumers and operators surveyed expressed a hunger for fresh takes on the tried-and-true favorite. “I would like to see creative sauces poured over top of the chicken, like spicy mango,” said one consumer.Another hankers for “marinated chicken besides fajitas, perhaps with Greek or Middle Eastern spices.”3

A foodservice operator told Datassential: “Every time we offer a new chicken sausage it does surprisingly well,” leading to a quest for “new flavors of chicken-based sausages.”4 To help offset rising labor costs, operators are interested in a greater range of preseasoned raw meat products, including premarinated poultry that is easier to prepare and more cost-effective.5

Birds of a Feather: Chicken and Turkey Both Trending

Survey data from Technomic, another leading market research firm, also underscore poultry’s staying power. Thirty-three percent of consumers intend to eat more chicken in the coming year, and 46% of millennials who eat chicken are likely to order it for delivery.6

Among the herbs and spices consumers favor for flavor with chicken are basil (30%), curry powder (19%) and ginger (18%).6 Consumers are split 50-50 when it comes to their preference for white or dark meat.6 And in keeping with the local sourcing and better-for-you foodservice trends, 77% of survey participants are more likely to purchase poultry described as “fresh.”6

Turkey’s popularity is also taking flight, with 78% of consumers agreeing that it is a better-for-you food source.6 Twenty-seven percent prefer turkey to be flavored with rosemary; 25% with sage; and 18% with cayenne pepper.6

“Growing chains are helping to maintain consumer interest in chicken, but turkey needs some more assistance to build momentum outside of the holiday season,” reports Technomic. “While chicken is a staple of American diets, there is potential for turkey to be a more year-round dish as well.”7

Poultry-Powered Menu Innovation

According to Datassential, which tracks limited-time offers and new product launches and collects consumer ratings to gauge a product’s market potential, chicken offers a versatility that gives it enduring appeal.8

As Jackie Rodriguez, Datassential’s senior project manager, explained: “One of the things that I noticed with the high-scoring items is a use of chicken as a platform for a lot of other trends in the industry.”8

She cites the Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Sub at the convenience store chain QuickChek and the Buffalo Chicken Pizza at Casey’s General Store, another c-store chain, as examples of chicken’s adaptability for new flavors and forms.4 In addition, Datassential determined that consumers on the go prefer boneless chicken options.8

Pluck a few innovative poultry recipes like our Italian Coated Chicken with PREMIUM Cracker Meal from our Culinary Center. Reach out below for guidance from our expert chefs on how your foodservice operation can use poultry to help take sales to new heights.


1. Fitzpatrick, Tara, Winner winner chicken dinner, Restaurant Hospitality, Jan. 20, 2018

2. Fitzpatrick, p. 11

3. Fitzpatrick, p. 12

4. Fitzpatrick, p. 13

5. Fitzpatrick, p. 15

6. Technomic, Center of the Plate: Poultry Infographic, 2019.

7. Technomic, Center of the Plate: Poultry, 2019

8. Gustafson, Isabelle, “C-Stores Heat Up Chicken Programs,” Convenience Store Decisions, June
13, 2019





1 Tara, Fitzpatrick, Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner, Restaurant Hospitality, Jan. 20, 2018

2 Technomic, Consumer Trends Report: Poultry Infographic , 2019

3 Technomic, Consumer Trends Report: Poultry, 2019

4 Gistafason, Isabelle, C-Stores Heat Up Chicken Programs, Convenience Store Decisions,June 13, 2019

Topics: Millennials, Restaurant Operations, Trends, Recipe

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Discover the Top 2019 Trends to Help Turbocharge Your Business

The Foodservice Fast Lane

Discover the Top 2019 Trends to Help Turbocharge Your Business
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