Consumers rate chicken quality high
Exclusive WATT PoultryUSA sponsored survey of chicken-eating habits of U.S. consumers shows improvement in quality ratings.
Consumers responding to the WATT PoultryUSA and National Chicken Council survey of chicken-eating habits have always rated the quality of the chicken they consume high, but in this year's survey consumers gave chicken products even higher marks for quality.
Consumers rated all of 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 they did in 1999 (Table 1).
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?" The percentage of consumers who said that they were "satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" increased for all quality attributes in the 2008 survey over the 1999 survey.
The greatest increase was in the percentage of consumers who were "satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with the food safety of their chicken products, this increased from 43 percent in 1999 to 75 percent in 2008.
This year's survey was conducted by PKS Research Partners. It involved 1,096 households from a pre-screened panel contacted online June 26 and 27, 2008. Survey results were presented at the NCC Chicken Marketing Seminar.
Consumers were asked how many times they ate chicken purchased in a grocery store and how many times they ate chicken in a foodservice setting over a specified two-week period. Eighty-five percent of the consumers surveyed had eaten chicken during the two weeks prior to the survey (meal or snack). The average consumer had eaten chicken 5.2 times during the given period. More than three-fourths of respondents had eaten chicken purchased from a supermarket or a grocery store. More than six in 10 consumers had eaten chicken during the two weeks prior to the survey.
Although the average times chicken was consumed was consistent with previous surveys, there were two significant changes. Looking at the combined meals or snacks 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 an increase in "very heavy" chicken consumers. In 2007, 9 percent of survey respondents reported eating no chicken in the two weeks. In the 2008 survey, the share of non-eaters increased to 15 percent, above any since 2001.
Eating more chicken
For the 2008 survey, 53 percent of respondents were classified as "heavy" chicken consumers (frequencies of four, five, six, seven, and eight or more), the same percentages as in 2007.
The category of eight 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 chicken 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.
Chicken to stretch food budget
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 to consumers who answered in the affirmative . It was, "How likely is your household to use certain ways to stretch the budget?"
Fifty-three percent of consumers surveyed said they use chicken to help stretch their food budget. Cooking enough chicken to have leftovers was the most popular means of using chicken to stretch food dollars (Table 2).
Consumers were asked how they felt about the use of more environment-friendly packaging, production method that has greater sustainability for the environment, locally raised, reduced carbon footprint production method, and country-of-origin on the label? A relatively high percentage of consumers reported being familiar with all of the five issues and this was especially the case for heavy chicken consumers.
Fifty-seven percent of all respondents reported they would be very likely or somewhat likely to purchase chicken that had environment-friendly packaging.
Fifty-eight percent of consumers were very likely or somewhat likely to purchase locally grown chicken. Forty-six percent said they were somewhat likely or very likely to buy chicken with a reduced carbon footprint.