US chicken consumption at record high, consumers concerned

19-07-2017 | | |
Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

A record amount of chicken is set to be eaten by US consumers this year with nine in ten people regularly purchasing poultry.

The US Department of Agriculture is projecting that Americans will eat nearly 92lbs of chicken per person, topping last year’s record of 91lbs.

But despite the record figures, consumers do have underlying concerns about food safety, antibiotics and use of hormones or steroids.

The National Chicken Council-commissioned survey looked at consumer behaviour among more than 1,000 adults during early June. It found that 84% of respondents said they had eaten a chicken meal or snack purchased from a supermarket in the fortnight leading up to the survey, while 67% had consumed a meal or snack from a restaurant.

Although these figures are slightly down on last year’s results, the survey found that 21% of consumers anticipate eating more chicken from the supermarket and 13% think they will eat more from a food service establishment over the next 12 months. Younger, more ethnically diverse people living in larger households tended to eat more chicken.

Tom Super, National Chicken Council’s senior vice-president of communications, said he believed chicken was still extremely popular: “The data shows that chicken is still top of mind for consumers,” he added.

Consumers rated freshness, taste and price as very important when purchasing chicken. Millennials are twice as likely as their older counterparts to buy pre-cooked chicken and eat it in store, the survey found.

When prompted, nearly seven in ten consumers said they were either very or extremely concerned about food safety, while 57% said they were worried about hormone/steroid use and 55% about antibiotic use.

And there is evidence of growing welfare concern about the time it takes to raise a chicken – 26% said they were extremely or very concerned compared to 19% last year.

Launching the statement ahead of this year’s annual US poultry marketing conference, the survey also found that three quarters of consumers felt articles in the media about the poultry industry has either been neutral or negative.

Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist