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on June 24, 2009

U.S. chicken consumers rate quality high

Exclusive WATT PoultryUSA sponsored survey of chicken eating habits of U.S. consumers shows improvement in quality ratings.

WATT PoultryUSA magazine has partnered with the National Chicken Council on a survey of chicken consumption for the last decade. This year the survey, conducted by PKS Research Partners, involved 1,096 households from pre-screened panels contacted on-line June 26 and 27, 2008. Survey results were presented on July 22 at the NCC Chicken Marketing Seminar.

Some trends have started to appear in the data from the first survey. Notably, consumers have rated the quality attributes (taste, freshness, tenderness, food safety, selection/variety and packaging) of the chicken that they buy from the supermarket at higher levels than consumers did in 1999. Consumers were asked, “How satisfied are you with the chicken purchased from your favorite supermarket meat department with respect to freshness, food safety, tenderness, selection/variety, packaging, and taste?” Consumers gave higher ratings for all attributes in 2008 than in 1999.

Consumer ratings of chicken attributes














Food Safety






Selection / Variety



Consumers were asked how many times in the last two weeks they ate chicken purchased in a grocery store and in the same two week period how many times they ate chicken in a foodservice setting. Eighty-five percent of the consumers surveyed had eaten chicken during the two weeks prior to the survey (meal or snack). The average consumer ate chicken 5.2 times. More than three-fourths of survey respondents had eaten chicken purchased from a supermarket/ grocery store. More than six in 10 of consumers had eaten chicken from some foodservice establishment during the two weeks prior to the survey.

Although the average times chicken was consumed during the two weeks prior to the survey was consistent with previous surveys there were two significant changes within the averages. Looking at the combined meals or snacks with chicken from supermarkets and foodservice, the difference compared with last year was the significant increase in the share of consumers who reported eating no chicken during the two weeks.  This change was offset by the significant increase in “very heavy” chicken consumers.  In 2007 nine percent of survey respondents reported eating no chicken in the two weeks from either supermarkets or foodservice.  In the 2008 survey this share on non-eaters increased to 15 percent, measurably above any of the previous since 2001.

For the 2008 survey, 53 percent of respondents were classified as “heavy” chicken consumers (frequencies of 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 or more), the same percentages as in 2007.  However, the category of 8 or more meals or snacks with chicken increased from 14 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2008.  The 2008 share is the largest of all the surveys conducted since 2001.  This observation of “very heavy” eaters was the case for both chicken from supermarkets and from foodservice.  The significant increase in “very heavy” eaters offset the significant increase in non-eaters when comparing average frequency of eating chicken during the two week time period.

In this year’s survey, consumers were asked, “Is your family currently using chicken to help stretch the household food budget?” A follow-up question was asked of consumers who answered in the affirmative to the last question. The follow-up question was, “How likely is your household to use certain ways to stretch the budget?”

Fifty-three percent of consumers surveyed said that they use chicken to help stretch their food budget. The most popular means of using chicken to stretch their food dollars was to cook enough chicken to have leftovers for future meals.

Consumer’s methods for using chicken to stretch their food budget



  Share of Respondents

Have more leftover chicken to serve later


Use more mixture that combine chicken with other food ingredients to get more servings from chicken package purchased



Substitute chicken for other meats for meals and snacks


Purchased more of the less expensive parts of the chicken, such as legs rather than boneless/skinless breasts



Purchase more whole chicken rather than parts



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