A WATT-Rennier Poultry Confidence Index survey poll shows that 58 percent of respondents predict that U.S. antibiotic-free (ABF) broiler production will at least double within the next five years, by 2019. About a third of this group feel U.S. antibiotic-free broiler production could triple or quadruple.

Chick-fil-A announced in February a commitment to serving only birds raised without antibiotics in all of its restaurants within five years. The Poultry Confidence Index survey respondents felt that this high-profile announcement could accelerate general consumer demands. Nearly 50 percent of respondents expected at least one more restaurant to announce plans similar to those of Chick-fil-A within the next five years.

Chick-fil-A moves to antibiotic-free broiler production

In February, Chick-fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy described the move to antibiotic-free broiler production as another step in the quick-service restaurant chain’s commitment to use only the highest-quality ingredients.

“Since our family business began 67 years ago, we have focused on our customers. It’s why we insist upon using the highest-quality ingredients. We want to continue that heritage, and offering antibiotic-free chicken is the next step,” said Cathy.

Additional Poultry Confidence Index survey findings

In the WATT-Rennier Poultry Confidence Index survey, expectations of doubling U.S. antibiotic-free broiler production in the next five years had ripple effects for integrators. About 40 percent of the respondents said several U.S. broiler complexes would soon switch to antibiotic-free broiler production, while a similar number predicted that at least one broiler integrator will announce plans in the near future to become entirely antibiotic free within 3 to 5 years.

In contrast to these strong predictions, 30 percent of the respondents felt there would be little change over the next five years.

About the Data:  WATT PoultryUSA and Rennier Associates deploy the Poultry Confidence Index survey via email to over 340 poultry industry professionals every quarter. The data for this story was gathered from the 83 responses to the May 2014 send. Sixty-five percent of respondents are located in the United States or Canada. The breakdown by species is as follows: Broiler (68 percent); Turkey (13 percent); Other Poultry Species (10 percent); and Other (9 percent).