Throughout the last year, as home kitchens took center stage amid the coronavirus pandemic, Americans have been relying on chicken as a healthy and convenient protein. In fact, three-quarters (75%) of Americans who eat any chicken say they prepare chicken at home at least once a week. During the past nine months of COVID-19, retail chicken sales have increased $1.3 billion, or 19.5%, from the same period last year, according to IRI and 210 Analytics.
The National Chicken Council (NCC) this week unveiled the findings of a new survey fielded with the goal of better understanding chicken consumption trends and preferences in the U.S. Along with a host of interesting metrics, the survey includes insight into the impact of the pandemic on chicken consumption habits, showing that half (50%) of Americans who eat chicken say they have eaten it more than any other protein during COVID-19.
Chicken has been popular during COVID-19 because it’s easy to prepare and great for meal prepping, NCC said.
Nearly half (48%) of survey respondents said they increased the amount of chicken they prepared at home during the pandemic, while 39% said they increased the ways they prepare chicken. “Chicken” has also been the most Tweeted-about food during the pandemic months.
Half of Americans agree that they’d prefer chicken to other proteins during the holidays.
With the pandemic shifting many holiday plans, people are finding innovative ways to reinvent their traditional celebratory meals. Half of Americans who eat chicken at all said they’d prefer chicken to ham (52%) or turkey (49%) at a holiday meal, and more than half said they would eat chicken wings as part of Thanksgiving (57%) or Christmas (61%) dinner.
The NCC survey also found that 56% of chicken eaters say they would be happy to get chicken as a holiday gift.
Even though survey results show that Americans prefer chicken, they are split when it comes to other chicken decisions, with approximately half (52%) preferring grilled chicken, while the other would opt for fried (48%). Americans also slightly prefer boneless wings (53%) over traditional bone-in wings. Plus, two in five Americans say the breast is their favorite cut of chicken, but wings (20%), thighs (17%) and drumsticks (14%) are also fierce competitors. Three-quarters (74%) of chicken eaters would prefer to eat real chicken over plant-based alternatives.
“With everyone adjusting to a new way of life this year, chicken has been a reliable source of nutritious protein in an unpredictable time,” NCC spokesman Tom Super said. “This research shows how the hard work of the entire chicken industry during this challenging time has supported many Americans who are looking for an easy-to-prepare, affordable and healthy meal.”