A few days ago, CoBank’s economist Will Sawyer, published a very interesting report on the changes that are happening in the U.S. chicken market with respect to consumer preferences of white breast meat, thighs and dark meat drumsticks.
I grew up knowing that the queen of chicken meat was breast meat. That's where the efforts of genetic selection, production and processing were put. Such was the influence that, despite being a Latin American myself, I have always consumed more breast than thighs and drumsticks, although lately I have kind of got the taste for boneless thigh fillets. They are really good.
As it turns out, there are ─ Sawyer explains ─ several factors that are turning the market in terms of preferences and prices in the United States. One is demographics, in which Millennials are about to surpass baby boomers. Millennials in the U.S. have been more in touch with other cultures and cuisines and like dark meat. But in addition, the Latino and Asian population, which prefer thighs and drumsticks, grow faster than the other ethnic groups, and proportionally they make up a larger percentage than they previously did. And of course, they exert more influence.
This change motivates an increase in value of dark meat — 20 years ago, breast was 66% of the value of the chicken. Today, it is 45%. And the drumsticks went from 12% to 30%. Those are amazing figures. Since there is more available technology for deboning and good prices, boom! The meat stays in the United States.
It seems to me that the famous "dumping" of the thighs and drumsticks or leg quarters of which the Latin American poultry industry has always complained, will soon be over. There will be no regrets. What impact will this have on the region?
And another thing: the efforts of breeding companies to develop the breast, will now be directed towards the development of things and drumsticks? Why not, right? It's all about money.
What do you think?