Sales of turkey, duck and other specialty birds in the U.S. grew by 6.5 percent in 2011–2012, reaching $7.1 billion and outpacing sales of chicken, according to the latest Mintel research on the U.S. poultry market.

This number makes up a significant part of the $30 billion poultry industry, and has increased from $6 billion in 2008. In comparison, sales of chicken parts grew 4.5 percent year-on-year, from $17.3 billion in 2011, and whole chickens reported sales of $5.5 billion in 2012, an increase of 0.6 percent over 2011.

“The growth of other poultry products over 2011 and 2012 is partly attributed to the increasing popularity of Heritage turkeys, which are bigger, take longer to reach maturity and sell for more than standard turkeys," said John N. Frank, category manager for Mintel Food and Drink. "However, if other poultry products, like turkey, want to continue their impressive growth and not just be seen as the festive centerpiece, they will need to provide the level of innovation that is being seen in the chicken parts segment. 


"As for the poultry market as a whole, it’s not surprising that chicken parts make up the majority of sales — they represent an attractive option for shoppers who want a convenient and healthy choice for quick dinners, while whole chickens take a substantial amount of time to prepare and culinary know-how,” said Frank.

Poultry in general might also start pulling in some consumers from the red meat market, according to Mintel. Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) U.S. consumers say they have increased their consumption of poultry in the last year, peaking among younger adults, with 43 percent of those aged 18–24 eating more versus 36 percent of the most senior consumers (aged 65+). More than eight in 10 (84 percent) Americans say they eat turkey; chicken is eaten by 94 percent and other poultry, such as duck, goose and hen, are consumed by 23 percent of the population.