Poultry’s popularity rising in US foodservice industry, new data from Mintel

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 24th May 2012

After the recent detection of mad cow disease in California, combined with bad press that has been looming over the US beef industry from ‘pink slime’, chicken might be making a resurgence on the US foodservice industry, according to market research company Mintel.

New data from Mintel Menu Insights, published this week, suggests the number of US menu items with poultry as an ingredient has climbed an average of 12 per cent in the past three years and is expected to continue to increase in the next one to two years.

Mintel’s Menu Insights database tracks flavour, ingredient, marketing and nutritional claims from the 350 largest US chain restaurants and 150 independent restaurants.

According to Mintel, the greatest growth has come from the casual dining segment followed by fast casual eateries.

According to the research, chicken fingers are the top poultry dish and have shown a 10 per cent increase on menus from the first quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2012, “dominating” quick service restaurants, due in large part to children’s menus and appetizer lists.

Buffalo wings continue to be prevalent in menus, with a 19 per cent increase in the same time frame. By contrast, chicken sandwiches show a steep decline (down 36 per cent), whilst chicken wraps are increasing their menu mentions by 35 per cent.

Mintel’s research also found a 26 per cent increase of chicken as a pizza topping in the US foodservice industry.

Mintel’s foodservice analyst, Kathy Hayden said, “In addition to the recent health-related issues surrounding beef, and the already high beef prices, we expect restaurants to start focusing their attention on other proteins.

“Steakhouses have been struggling in this rough economy and have tried to compensate by offering smaller cuts or more “surf and turf” options, but ultimately, chicken menu innovation is giving restaurant-goers a fresh and less expensive option while dining out,” Ms Hayden said.