How to update chicken dishes across the menu

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Chicken remains a staple of the American diet, and consumers’ love for the protein shows no signs of slowing. According to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report, 33% of consumers say they will try to eat more chicken over the next year.

“At a time when growth is hard to come by, the limited-service chicken category is performing exceptionally well,” said Charles Winship, senior research analyst at Technomic, in a March release titled “Growing chains keep chicken in the spotlight while turkey struggles with momentum outside of the holidays.” “The category’s growth has ramifications across segments, encouraging various operators to ensure that their chicken offerings are differentiated through quality, flavor or value.”

This is good news for foodservice providers, who can showcase the popular protein across the menu from appetizers to snacks and lunchtime sandwiches to center-of-the-plate entrees.

Use on-trend ingredients

Consumers are expecting a larger selection of menu choices from foodservice providers, because it’s easy to get bored if nothing new is added to the menu. According to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor Consumer Trend Report, 65% of consumers say they like trying new flavors from time to time, and 62% say that when they order something new, they so do because they’re looking for something different.

With its popularity, low cost and flavor adaptability, chicken is a versatile item. Operators are always looking for ways to increase it on their menus. According to Technomic’s 2019 Poultry report, 44% of consumers say they would be interested in trying chicken offerings made with new or unique flavors and sauces.

Trending ingredients in noncommercial foodservice include hoisin sauce (+56% year-over-year), kung pao sauce (+47.8%), Szechuan sauce (+32%), bearnaise sauce (+31%) and salsa verde (+30%), according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.

Operators can offer a variety of craveable sauces for diners to choose from in order to encourage repeat visits.

Menu regional favorites

One offering foodservice operators need to have on the menu is Tyson® Nashville Hot Chicken. It’s been the rage for years, and it doesn’t seem the fried chicken bathed in a fiery chile sauce will be 86’d anytime soon. Tyson® Nashville Hot Chicken is exactly what consumers crave, with Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report noting that 77% of consumers say they enjoy food that is either moderately spicy or very spicy.

Tyson Foods makes it easy to offer an authentic and bold-flavored chicken with its fully-cooked and lightly breaded Nashville Hot Chicken products. Foodservice providers will reap the rewards of reduced prep times, increased efficiency, ensured consistency with every order, minimized waste and protected flavor of the food longer when served in hot food stations.

It’s a win-win for providers and customers because Tyson® Nashville Hot Chicken fits into all menu parts and satisfies spicy food cravings. Check out these three menu ideas:

  • Appetizer/Snack: Tyson® Nashville Hot Boneless Wings are bite-sized chicken breast chunks with rib meat portions that deliver on-trend flavors with an accompanying spicy sauce and a crispiness with every bite.
  • Lunch: Tyson®Right Size® Select Cut* Nashville Hot Chicken Breast Filets add new excitement to the lunch menu. Amazingly tender and packed full of authentic flavor, the filets are crispy and tossed with an accompanying signature spicy sauce. It’s a perfect protein to nestle on top of coleslaw and garnish with thick-cut pickles.
  • Dinner: Tyson® Select Cut* Nashville Hot Chicken Thigh Filets bring a new style to the traditional center-of-plate menu item. Thigh filets seasoned with a signature spicy sauce are perfect for serving with white bread and thick-cut pickles—just like in Nashville.

By highlighting big, bold flavors and calling out quality, noncommercial operators can harness more diner dollars from consumers who want high quality, tasty chicken dishes.

*Select Cut products give operators options when premium-priced products no longer fit their budget. Their customers can enjoy a whole-muscle bite at a value price to the operator and consistent sizing for accurate portioning and cost control.

This post is sponsored by Tyson Foods, Inc.