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Survey says: Americans choose chicken as number one ‘quarantine protein’

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WASHINGTON — Throughout the last year — as home kitchens took center stage — Americans have been relying on chicken as a healthy and convenient protein that can be enjoyed by everyone. In fact, three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans who eat any chicken say they prepare chicken at home at least once a week. During the past 9 months of COVID-19, retail chicken sales have increased $1.3B, up 19.5 percent from the same period last year, according to IRI and 210 Analytics.

On Nov. 17, the National Chicken Council (NCC) unveiled the findings of a new survey fielded with the goal of better understanding chicken consumption trends and preferences in the United States. 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 percent) 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.

A staple of many diverse meals, it is no question that chicken is a versatile protein. Nearly half (48 percent) of survey respondents say they increased the amount of chicken they prepared at home during the pandemic, while 39 percent said they increased the ways they prepare chicken.

No matter how Americans prefer it, chicken is an easy meal to prepare and is perfect for meal prepping, especially when we are spending more time than ever at home. Twitter users would agree, as ‘chicken’ has also been the most Tweeted about food during the pandemic months.

  • Chicken could be the way to a happy holiday, with half of Americans agreeing 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 say they’d prefer chicken to ham (52 percent) or turkey (49 percent) at a holiday meal. And more than half would eat chicken wings as part of Thanksgiving (57 percent) or Christmas (61 percent) dinner.

If you are looking for a gift for your family and friends, look no further. The NCC survey shows 56 percent of chicken eaters would be happy to get chicken as a holiday gift. We recommend keeping it out of the stockings, of course!

  • Chicken is the preferred protein.

Based on the survey, it is clear Americans prefer chicken. But when it comes to other chicken decisions, Americans are split. Approximately one half (52 percent) of Americans prefer grilled chicken while the other would opt for fried (48 percent). Americans also just barely prefer boneless wings (53 percent) over traditional bone-in wings. Plus, two in five Americans say that the breast is their favorite cut of chicken, but wing (20 percent), thigh (17 percent) and drumstick (14 percent) are also fierce competitors. Three-quarters (74 percent) 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,” said NCC spokesman Tom Super. “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.”

The National Chicken Council is the non-profit trade association headquartered in Washington, D.C., that represents U.S. chicken producers, the companies that produce and process chickens raised for meat. Member companies of the council account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

On behalf of the National Chicken Council, Ketchum Analytics ran “U.S. Chicken Survey” to better understand current trends related to chicken consumption. This study was fielded online by LUCID with a 95 percent confidence level and a margin of error of +/-3.1 percent and ran from Oct. 24, 2020 to Oct. 27, 2020. The study was derived from a sample of 999 Americans who eat chicken.

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