When it comes to meat, chicken is a highly versatile product, and its reputation as both a healthy and affordable meal allows it to dominate grocery baskets nationwide.
But according to a recent USDA report, chicken production is making more than just domestic gains. In 2019, global poultry exports are expected to surpass pork and beef, with a 4 percent year-over-year increase, and producers in the US and Brazil will receive the most financial gain.
The domestic and international drive for poultry products brings both challenges and opportunity for suppliers, as a saturated market makes it harder to stand out, a growing consumer base gives leeway for the industry to experiment with a variety of tastes, flavors and marketing styles.
According to Charles Winship, the senior research analyst at Technomics, poultry suppliers who are willing to experiment with consumer taste preferences could receive capital gain over competitors.
“At a time when growth is hard to come by, the limited-service chicken category is performing exceptionally well,” explains Winship. “The category’s growth has ramifications across segments, encouraging various operators to ensure that their chicken offerings are differentiated through quality, flavor or value.”
Consumers preferences for food vary significantly by demographic, younger generations, such as Generation Z and Millennials, have shown to be willing to explore more with flavors than previous demographics. Out of the 1700 US consumers surveyed in the Technomics Poultry Consumer Trend study, 50 percent of shoppers between 18-34 showed interest in chicken items with unique ingredient offerings.
The adaptability of chicken to take on a variety of marinades and spices make it an ideal product for suppliers to meet this demand. With ethnic dishes like Asian, Latin American, and Middle-Eastern flavors growing in popularity.
As the health food market continues to grow in popularity, the chicken industry also looks to benefits from this burgeoning trend. The study indicates, over three-fourths of consumers across all demographics consider chicken to be healthier than beef, pork, and seafood, as well as vegetarian/plant-based options.
While health-based food items are increasing domestically, the global organic chicken market is also expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 19 percent between 2019-2023.
As health weighs heavy on the minds of many consumers, other meat products such as beef have seen a boost in sales when providing “grass-fed” and “antibiotic-free” labels on their packaging. Similarly, poultry suppliers who market health claims on their packaging could gain financial leverage over their competitors.
Transparency is also a growing demand among consumers in the food sector, fueling incentives for blockchain enabled QR bar-codes and other smart labeling incentives. According to Technavio, the food industry is the largest segment using smart packaging, especially among meat providers. A recent example is Foster Farms DORI QR label. This interactive digital bar-code gives consumers access to over 500 chicken recipes along with a guide on poultry labeling terms.
Poultry producers who acknowledge the benefits of trust and traceability in the food industry, while incorporating improved packaging and adventurous flavors into their products will likely be the ones benefiting in future sales.