Most poultry consumers buy for price, not sustainability

Even though poultry consumers are putting more importance on sustainability, it’s not the primary consideration when making a purchasing decision in the grocery store.

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Poultry consumers are faced with a choice in the grocery store. Some value price point over welfare claims. Others are willing to pay for what they perceive as more sustainable products if the price isn’t too high.

This balance creates a question for the poultry industry: What are consumers willing to pay for sustainable products?

To gain a better understanding of poultry consumer purchasing decisions, Bruce Blakeman, Senior Consultant and Public Policy + Issues Practice Leader with consulting company Heart+Mind Strategies, and his team conducted a survey examining what shoppers value.

Major findings

The survey revealed that most chicken buyers are price buyers, meaning they will most likely purchase the standard chicken product rather than products from birds with claims on how they were raised according to organic standards or fed a ration made with non-GMO ingredients. However, if the price is equal or less than standard products, a significant share of price buyers will switch to those options.

“Value is king, but there are consumers who will pay more for sustainable products,” said Blakeman at the 2023 Chicken Marketing Summit.

Concerning organic poultry shoppers, the market is inelastic to price. “Organic buyers are committed and are going to buy organic products regardless of the price differences compared to standard and non-GMO products,” he stated. “Demand for organic chicken among organic buyers is stable even with price increases and cheaper alternatives.”

When non-GMO prices are equal to organic, consumers purchased the organic over the non-GMO.

Non-GMO shoppers will buy organic products if close in price, but the survey shows they will mainly purchase non-GMO options. Very few non-GMO shoppers will switch to standard products, even when non-GMO is significantly higher in price. However, price buyers showed willingness to switch from standard chicken when there is a cheaper or same priced non-GMO option.

“27% of the non-GMO market will buy non-GMO chicken at the lowest price point even when the alternatives are cheaper,” said Blakeman.

More about the survey

The survey involved 925 adult American citizens who recently purchased poultry products. The participants were presented with three types of chicken to choose from at various price points: standard, non-GMO and organic chicken.

According to Blakeman, non-GMO and organic options were used as proxies for sustainability, over other sustainable poultry products, to simplify the study. A discrete choice model was used to analyze the data and measure the tradeoffs consumers made between the different products and price points.

Attend the 2024 Chicken Marketing Summit

The 2024 Chicken Marketing Summit will be held at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 29-31, 2024.

Serving a unique cross section of the chicken supply chain, the Chicken Marketing Summit explores issues and trends in food marketing and consumer chicken consumption patterns and purchasing behavior. 

Registration will open in early 2024.

For more information, visit:

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