Ground chicken is one cut that has potential to gain more traction with shoppers. Although ground chicken only had 1.3% of total fresh chicken dollar sales last year, the category is up 41.9% in volume from the year before.
“I see it growing because it’s such a great item. ... It’s got a great flavor; people like it after they try it much better than the turkey products. I really see that category growing, and we look forward to promoting it and having it grow here,” said Piggly Wiggly Carolina’s Sullens.
Precooked chicken sausages — a convenience item that usually comes with a high retail price — are a big mover for Foodtown stores, Metta said.
In addition to looking at different cuts, consumers are paying more attention to how chickens are raised.
Melissa Abbott, senior director of culinary insights at the Hartman Group, said that consumers are asking questions like: “What kind of life did the chicken have? How was it raised? Was it free roaming? Was it free range? Did it have a healthy diet? What kind of food did it get to eat?”
As for future trends, Abbott expects the breed of chicken to be more important to consumers going forward. Restaurants and butchers are already distinguishing between pig breeds, and supermarkets are promoting heritage turkey breeds for Thanksgiving, she pointed out (see “Specialty Turkeys Gain Shelf Space”).
Some West Coast chefs are starting to use the Jidori chicken breed, known for its flavor, in more dishes, Abbott said.
Another trend, thanks to the influence of global cuisine and climbing protein prices, is just less meat on the plate.
“What we’re seeing is that, more and more, meat is becoming a condiment than that center-of-the-plate style eating, which has been prevalent in the United States,” Abbott said.
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