Consumers chose chicken over other proteins during COVID-19

Chicken was the primary protein used in American home cooking this year, according to the findings of a recent survey from the National Chicken Council (NCC).

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Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com
Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

Chicken was the primary protein used in American home cooking this year, according to the findings of a recent survey from the National Chicken Council (NCC).

“Chicken has been popular during COVID-19 because it’s easy to prepare and great for meal prepping. A staple of many diverse meals, it is no question that chicken is a versatile protein,” said Council spokesman Tom Super.

“In addition, when the economy takes a downturn as we saw in the spring and early summer, chicken is typically the go-to meat for an affordable protein option.“

The study surveyed 999 Americans who eat chicken about chicken consumption trends.

Consumers flock to chicken

Half of the consumers surveyed indicated they ate chicken more than any other protein during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, three-quarters of Americans said they prepare the protein at home at least once a week, with nearly half (48%) indicating that they actually prepare more chicken at home now than prior to the pandemic.

Chicken sales were up $973 million in October 2020 for retail versus the comparable 2019 period, according to data from IRI.

Consumers have also been learning new recipes. More than one-third (39%) said that they have increased the ways that they prepare chicken.

The survey respondents showed a slight preference for grilled chicken and boneless wings over fried chicken and traditional bone-in wings. Nearly half (40%) said that the breast is their favorite cut, but the wing (20%), thigh (17%) and drumstick (14%) were also very popular.

Notably, three-quarters (74%) of chicken eaters prefer real chicken over a plant-based alternative.

A new holiday favorite?

With the holidays approaching, NCC also asked American consumers about their plans for celebratory meals.

Half of respondents said they’d rather eat chicken over ham (52%) or turkey (49%) for a holiday meal. More than half said they’d replace traditional options for chicken wings as part of their Thanksgiving (57%) or Christmas (61%) dinner.

“With fewer families traveling this season for large, traditional holiday gatherings, chicken is a good choice for families who might not be cooking a large turkey or ham or two. The Cornish hen is a great option. And because of chicken’s versatility, it is great to use for ‘planned-overs’ after the get-together, for dishes like fajitas, chicken sandwiches, soup, served over salad, etc. etc.,” Super said.

Finally, the survey revealed than 56% of those surveyed said they’d be happy to receive chicken as a holiday gift.

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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