Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that per capita consumption of chicken in the U.S. would be a little more than 91 pounds.
The forecast for this year is 92.5 pounds. That’s a lot of poultry even though, according to a report published by Mintel research company last November, the category has experienced only “minimal growth” for the past five years.
But, the researchers predicted, the outlook for increased sales over the next five years appears to be brighter, in part due to product innovation, especially by suppliers and retailers who are incorporating chicken into non-traditional dayparts such as breakfast or snack.
At Clark’s Pump-N-Shop stores, for example, chicken tenders virtually fly out the door from morning through night, subbing for sausage or bacon in breakfast biscuit sandwiches and accompanied by a variety of six or seven dipping sauces for lunch, dinner and in-between snacking. The availability of high-quality dipping sauces is important because they make it possible for the same basic chicken tenders to provide numerous flavor experiences, said Brian Unrue, the company’s director of operations.
Seven of Pump-N-Shop’s 67 stores feature Krispy Krunchy Chicken, a Louisiana Cajun marinade-injected fresh product that suits the spice-loving tastes in those market areas. Other locations, where the preference is for milder seasonings, offer either Chester’s Fried Chicken, Chappy’s Chicken or Pump-N-Shop’s own proprietary program. In all the stores where chicken is available, the product comes in fresh and is battered, breaded and fried on-site in front of the customers.
NPD Group market research reported in January that bone-in and boneless wings are also big sellers in restaurants and foodservice outlets. The research showed that 45% of Americans order chicken wings, over 60% of which are bone-in.
Chicken is also the star of the catering menu that Unrue introduced a little more than four months ago.
In response to customer requests, he is testing a partnership with ChowNow, an online ordering system and marketing platform, in his Ashland, Ky. store.
“When we were opening the new store we had a lot of requests for online food ordering,” said Urue.
ChowNow developed the web page, set up the menu and put in place a system, in which orders go to an iPad with a wireless printer in the store. The system also accepts prepayment so that the order is totally ready for grab and go when the customer comes to the store for pick-up.
“We pay a monthly fee to ChowNow and we have a system that allows us to stay current and on top of things in the marketplace,” Unrue said.