US: Value, taste and health outweigh price for chicken purchases
Ninety-five percent of the U.S. consumers said that price per pound and overall price are more important or as important compared to a year ago when purchasing fresh chicken, according to research presented at the 2023 Chicken Marketing Summit. Fresh chicken is the protein of choice because it delivers value, taste and contributes to a healthful lifestyle, even as consumers react to inflationary pressures.
The National Chicken Council (NCC) and WATT Global Media presented the results of a study that focused on current and anticipated U.S. consumer behavior, specifically, consumption of fresh chicken. Circana provided supporting data from its retail databases. The results suggested several opportunities for chicken to maintain market share.
The study was commissioned by NCC and conducted online by Circana June 22 – 27, 2023, among 520 U.S. adults. Funding was provided by Elanco Animal Health, Evonik Animal Nutrition, NCC and WATT Global Media.
Younger consumers have different drivers for choosing chicken. Organic and antibiotic-free claims are more important to younger consumers compared to a year ago, while Boomers place less importance on these.
"More than three-quarters of Millennials reported that chicken is their favorite protein in a home-cooked meal", reported Joyce Neth, Watt Global Media.
In addition, organic and antibiotic-free claims are more important purchase drivers for Millennials, even as they face rising prices with other purchases. "Millennials and Gen Z are organic natives,” said Neth, "they have grown up with organics’ halo of ‘better for me and better for the planet’ and are willing to make tradeoffs in other purchases to buy organic chicken".
According to data provided by Erkin Peksoz, Circana, this commitment to organic chicken is reflected in increased dollar sales and decreased volume. Peksoz said, "organic share has been declining since first quarter 2022 but is still above 2020 levels".
Peksoz presented data that shows that Millennials over-index for chicken and under-index for pork, beef and turkey compared to Boomers. "Chicken is well-positioned with the generations that will soon have more income to spend", he added.
Eating at home
In the survey, 95% of those surveyed say they will eat at home more or the same amount in the next six months compared to previous six months. Further, 78% say they will continue or increase eating at the homes of friends and family and 50% will host dinner parties at their home.
Chances are high that these meal occasions will include fresh chicken. Weekday dinner is the most popular meal occasion including fresh chicken. 84% have prepared a weekday dinner with fresh chicken, followed by 62% preparing weekend dinner with fresh chicken. Top reasons cited for cooking fresh chicken are easy, delicious and healthy.
Expanding the definition of health
In this year’s findings, health was among the top reasons selected, yet nutritious and leaner were selected by fewer respondents.
"While we typically associate those characteristics with health, it’s clear that consumers are seeing more than those aspects as part of 'healthy'", said Neth. “Other research has shown that today’s consumers view health as overall well-being, including mental health, minimizing stress and occasionally indulging cravings. Many recipes for 'comfort food' include chicken".
Telling the sustainability story
Among a list of attributes, just four of ten respondents said they associated "more environmentally friendly and sustainable than other types of protein" with chicken. However, twice as many, or eight in ten, associated that attribute with plant-based meat alternatives.
"Chicken has a great sustainability story that must be told so that consumers, particularly those organic natives, can see this is another way that chicken aligns with their values", said Tom Super, National Chicken Council.
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