As the most-consumed animal protein, chicken remains a staple on American menus. Knowing how diners’ chicken preferences have changed from two years ago can help operators stay ahead of menu trends.
Read on to uncover the chicken prep styles, seasonings, glazes and cuts consumers are more interested in eating now than they were in 2015, according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report.
1. Sweet and spicy kicks
Diners' preference for honey on chicken is growing, with nearly half of today's consumers (46%) saying they prefer the combination, up from 42% in 2015.
Beyond honey, preference is growing for lemon, chipotle, black pepper and bourbon glazes and marinades.
Interest in chipotle and black pepper may relate to growing demand for spicy fried chicken, especially among millennials. A third of millennials (33%) say they are eating more fried chicken with spicy flavors than they were two years ago.
2. Double down on hot
Consumers increasingly prefer black pepper and cayenne pepper to spice or season their chicken when dining out. Three-quarters of consumers (72%) today want their chicken flavored with black pepper, up 5 percentage points from two years ago. About three in 10 consumers (28%) prefer cayenne pepper to season their chicken today, rising from less than a quarter of them in 2015 (23%).
A greater number of young diners demonstrate a stronger preference for hot spices, including cayenne pepper, red pepper and chili pepper, than their older counterparts.
3. Keep the skins on
Fewer consumers now (37%) than in 2015 (43%) prefer chicken to be skinless, pointing to a growing openness to chicken skins. The acceptance of skins may be attributed to the growth of fried chicken over the past couple of years. Lesser-known ethnic renditions of staple fried chicken have been popping up on menus over the past few months.
4. Go rotisserie
Rotisserie chicken preparations are trending up. Two-fifths of consumers (40%) say they prefer rotisserie chicken for lunch today, up from a third (33%) in 2015. More than two-fifths of consumers (45%) would now like to eat rotisserie chicken for a dinner entree, compared to 40% of diners who said the same in 2015.