Consumers are responding to increasing food prices by dining at home more and eating less beef and pork and more chicken, especially more economical cuts of chicken, food trends specialists told the National Chicken Council's Chicken Marketing Seminar last week.
Americans are eating fewer meals in restaurants and more meals in their homes as the economy continues to falter and incomes remain stretched, said Harry Balzer, chief food industry analyst and vice president at NPD Group in Chicago, Ill.
The number of meals that will be prepared and consumed at home this year is projected to total 889 per person, which will be the highest number in 20 years, he said. The number of meals that will be bought from restaurants will slip to 192 per person, down from a peak of 211 meals 10 years ago, he said, with just 74 of those meals consumed in the restaurant in which they were prepared and the remaining majority carried out.
In restaurants, chicken is prominent in orders, with 18.1% of all orders including a chicken item, especially chicken sandwiches, nuggets, strips and wings, Balzer said. However, fried chicken orders are on the decrease, he added.
Americans are stressed by the economic situation and increasing prices, especially for gasoline, which accounts for 16-18% of weekly consumer retail spending, and shoppers are seeking to save money by making fewer grocery trips and spending less per trip, according to Steve Lutz, executive vice president at The Perishables Group in West Dundee, Ill.Beef and pork sales are being harmed by higher meat prices, as are chicken sales as consumers shift away from higher-priced breasts and breast meat in the chicken complex to thighs and wings, he said. Consumers also are buying more ground chicken, which increased 7.4% in volume and 11.8% in value last year over 2009, he said.