Demand for chicken is increasing with over two thirds (69%) of UK diners wanting to see more of this plucky poultry on menus when eating out, according to new research by Moy Park Foodservice.
The findings also highlight how deeply engrained chicken has become in consumers’ mindsets with a whopping 77% choosing to eat it at least once a week and a further 58% opting for it twice a week.
Meanwhile, almost half (43%) prefer chicken over other types of meat and poultry when eating out-of-home (OOH) and when asked why, taste topped the poll for 60% of diners. This was followed in second place by the fact that chicken is considered a healthy option (47%), while value for money was cited by 43% of respondents, putting it a close third.
The research, which not only looks at the growing demand for chicken but also aims to provide caterers with inspiration to adapt their menus, reveals that tradition remains supreme with the most popular type of chicken-based dish still a roast, preferred by 32% of consumers. In contrast, however, and showing that consumers are willing to put a twist on this popular protein, the Italian inspired Hunter’s chicken is the second most popular chicken dish among 14% of diners, while 12% are happy to ditch the knife and fork and tuck into a hearty chicken burger.
With chicken becoming increasingly popular, the challenge for caterers is to ensure diners don’t tire of the same offering, something that can be easily overcome by adding flavour to the menu. When asked what consumers’ favourite flavours are, BBQ proved king among 26% of diners, followed by garlic (20%) while 18% like to turn up the heat with spice.
As well as flavour, the research suggests caterers would do well to incorporate chicken into different types of cuisine on the menu with a quarter of diners (24%) saying British style dishes offer the best variety when it comes to chicken based meals, followed closely by Chinese (15%) and American (14%).
A key trend to come out of the research is the demand for consumers to be in control of their meal and build their own dish, with three in four consumers wanting the option to customise their chicken when eating out, whether this be in terms of flavour, spice or heat. By offering this option not only do customers have more choice but caterers widen their menu and, as a result, can appeal to a larger market.
While the temptation may be to focus purely on mains – the research highlights that chicken accounts for 31% of main meals – the findings act as a timely reminder to caterers that there are plenty of opportunities to add chicken to other parts of the menu too, with 88% of people wanting to see more chicken-based appetisers. Sandwiches, meanwhile, are another area in which caterers can capitalise on this growing trend for chicken, coming out top as people’s preferred filling by almost a third of consumers (29%), beating cheese (18%) and tuna (12%) hands down.
Frannie Santos-Mawdsley, Senior Customer Marketing Manager, European Foodservice, Moy Park, says: “Chicken consumption is on the rise and it’s not surprising really as its sheer versatility has mass-market appeal, attracting both young and old as well as male and female customers. Chicken is also a popular option for health conscious consumers, being rich in protein and lower in fat and calories than many red meats.
“Caterers need to be offering customers what they want so they would do well to take these findings onboard and analyse their own menu by asking themselves if their current offering is hitting the spot. There are a great many ways in which caterers can utilise chicken so that it forms a bigger part on today’s menus. And remember, chicken is versatile, healthy and cheaper than many red meats, which means it’s also extremely profitable too.”
Constantly providing caterers with new menu ideas, Moy Park Foodservice is leading the way in innovation with the recent launch of its Street-Style Pulled Chicken, designed to capitalise on the trend for street food, while further new product development is planned to follow later this year.
As well as providing great tasting menu items, Moy Park Foodservice also offers caterers help and ideas to develop and improve menus as well as free, downloadable POS to help maximise sales. Caterers should visit: www.moyparkfoodservice.com
Infographic can be viewed here: http://www.moypark.com/images/chickenisation-infographic.jpg