Bigger may be better, but less popular
In a session called â€œBig Bird Programs: The Customer
Perspective,â€ a panel representing the customer viewpoint examined the US
chicken industry's 'big bird' production programs which create more and more
heft per broiler.
Big birds may be popular with processors, but consumers still like smaller
birds better. John Hauptman, vice president of retail consulting firm Willard Bishop
that big birds (from flocks sometimes averaging eight pounds per bird) can pose
economic and quality issues for retailers.
The optimal size for whole fryers at retail is considered to be around
three pounds dressed weight. While parts from birds larger than the optimal size
may make a great presentation in the service case and produce a higher ring at
the cash register, there are drawbacks. If whole fryers are too large, quality
concerns can result. The meat can be tougher and less flavourful to
Ken Parnell of Parnell Leaton Consulting
, and former vice president of
purchasing for Wal-Mart
, detailed the progression in bird weights. In the
1970s, individual bird weights tended to range from 2.0 to 2.25 pounds. Now, in
the 2000s, 13-pound broilers are not unheard of around the industry. Parnell
said that these birds and parts would need to be pumped or marinated to be
acceptable, and companies/retailers will need to develop marination and cooking
processes to meet the challenge.
Mike Sobel, director of purchasing for Zaxby's
, said that Zaxby customers prefer the smaller tenders
five to one in taste tests. Although it is more cost effective to produce larger
birds, Sobel suggested the industry search for a way to produce smaller birds
more economically, for the production of the smaller tenders.
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