Chicken eating frequency and market penetration were at 10-year highs in a survey of 1,000 U.S. households conducted in early June 2011.
While the foodservice and retail grocery businesses haven’t fully recovered from the recession, chicken is getting its share, and more, of consumer purchases in both sectors, according to a survey of 1,050 consumers conducted for the National Chicken Council and funded by WATT PoultryUSA and Givaudan Flavors.
Frequency of eating chicken averaged 5.7 times in the two-week survey period, equaling the high reached in 2010, while the share of households eating chicken rose to a new high of 93%.
Market penetration, or share of households reporting eating chicken, showed the strongest growth for purchases at foodservice, rising to 73% in 2011 from 67% in 2010. Meanwhile, the share of households eating chicken purchased from retail grocery stores rose by two percentage points over 2010, reaching 87% in 2011. The 87% share in retail grocery purchases equaled the previous high in 2006.
The survey was conducted June 2, 3, 4 and 5 by PKS Research Partners, which contacted 1,050 households from a pre-screened panel. Respondents were 18 years of age and older, with 51.5% females and 48.5% males, weighted. The sample was weighted to 1,000 respondents to reflect a demographic balance.
Chicken eating survey highlights
Following are other survey highlights:
- Millennial households (ages 18 to 34 years) are the heaviest users of chicken, eating chicken 6.9 times in the two-week period, but they reported the biggest year-over-year decline in 2011, down from 7.7 times in 2010.
- Greatest Generation households (ages 65 years and over) are the lightest users of chicken, eating chicken 4.8 times in the two-week period, but they reported the biggest year-over-year increase in 2011, up from 3.7 times in 2010.
- Hispanic and black consumers ate chicken significantly more frequently in the two-week period at 7.3 and 7.1 times, respectively, than white consumers at 5.1 times.
- Hispanic consumers reported the highest share of households eating chicken in the two-week period at 96% compared to 91% for blacks and 92% for whites.
- The share of consumers not eating chicken in a two-week period dropped to 7% in 2011 from 10% in 2010.
Consumers stretching their food budgets
Chicken’s strong showing in purchase frequency and market penetration during a weak economy is no surprise, said William P. Roenigk, senior vice president of the National Chicken Council.
“Seeing the greater penetration or extra households purchasing chicken at least once every two weeks was very gratifying,” he said. “People are looking for value and convenience and ways to make their food budgets stretch as far as possible. Chicken – especially legs, thighs and drums and some of the industry’s new products – offers an opportunity for consumers to do all three things.”
More heavy users of chicken in 2011
The survey group’s frequency of eating chicken in the two-week period averaged 5.7 times, but the average masks a range of behavior. The number of heavy users (six or more times) rose by five percentage points to 44%. Medium users (three to five times) stayed the same in 2011 as in 2010 at 34%. Light users (one to two times) declined by two percentage points to 15%. Respondents who reported eating no chicken fell by three percentage points to 7%.
Hispanics and blacks report heaviest use
Frequency of eating chicken continued higher for Hispanic and black consumers than for white consumers in the 2011 survey. The combined frequency (grocery and foodservice) was lowest for white consumers at 5.1 times in the two-week period, while frequencies for Hispanic and black consumers were significantly higher at 7.3 and 7.1 times, respectively.
Usage by purchase location varied among the three groups. Hispanics ate chicken purchased at foodservice more frequently at 3.2 times in the two-week period than did blacks at 2.5 times. Conversely, blacks ate chicken purchased at grocery more frequently at 4.5 times than did Hispanics at 4.2 times. In comparison, white consumers ate chicken purchased at grocery 3.3 times and foodservice 1.8 times.
The high frequency at which Hispanic consumers ate chicken purchased at foodservice is notable in that it accounted for almost 44% of their combined (grocery and foodservice) chicken eating occasions. In comparison, foodservice-purchased chicken accounted for 35% of the chicken eating occasions for black consumers and white consumers.
Market penetration greatest among Hispanics
Hispanic consumers reported the highest share of households eating chicken in the two-week survey period, adding four percentage points to raise overall share to 96%. In comparison, white and black consumers reported shares of 92% and 91%, respectively.
While market penetration among Hispanic and white consumers increased, black consumers reported a decline in overall share of one percentage point. That small decline in overall share masks a big increase in share for chicken purchased at foodservice. While black consumers reported no change in share of households eating chicken purchased at retail (89%), their share for chicken purchased at foodservice rose eight percentage points to 84%. In comparison, foodservice shares for Hispanic and white households were 83% and 68%, respectively.
Offsetting behavior among generational groups
The survey group’s frequency of eating chicken remained unchanged from the previous year’s high of 5.7, but the average masks offsetting behavior in the youngest and oldest generational groups. Millennial consumers (ages 18 to 34 years), who are the heaviest users of chicken, reduced their number of eating occasions from 7.7 to 6.9, a 10% reduction. At the same time, Greatest Generation consumers (ages 65 years and older), who are the lightest users of chicken, increased their number of eating occasions from 3.7 to 4.8, a 30% increase.
Significant changes in market penetration were reported among the generational groups. Boomers (ages 45-64) reported the greatest increase in share of households eating chicken during the two-week survey period. Their combined grocery and foodservice share rose by six percentage points to 94%. In fact, the Boomers moved from being tied with the Greatest Generation with the lowest share in 2010 to having the highest share among all the generational groups in 2011. The Boomers increased their number of eating occasions of foodservice chicken by eight percentage points to 69%.
Greatest Generation consumers also reported significant increases in share in 2011. The group’s combined grocery and foodservice share rose by four percentage points to 92%. Even more dramatic increases were reported by the 65-and-older group by source of purchase – increases of nine percentage points for retail grocery and 15 percentage points for foodservice.
Generation X consumers (ages 35 to 44) reported the highest share for eating chicken purchased at retail grocery at 90%.
Highs in the frequencies of eating chicken in the two-week survey period were maintained in 2011. Gains were reported in market penetration, or share of households eating chicken. Hispanics led other demographic groups in overall frequency and share.