Industry News | May 24, 2012

As Pink Slime Looms, Chicken Mentions Increase on Menus

Beef may not be ‘what’s for dinner.’ After the recent report of mad cow disease in California, combined with the bad press that is already looming over the beef industry from pink slime, chicken might be making a resurgence on the foodservice scene, according to latest research from Mintel. 

“In addition to the recent health-related issues surrounding beef, and the already high beef prices, we expect restaurants to start focusing their attention on other proteins,” says Kathy Hayden, foodservice analyst at Mintel. “Steakhouses have been struggling in this rough economy and have tried to compensate by offering smaller cuts or more surf and turf options, but ultimately, chicken menu innovation is giving restaurant-goers a fresh and less expensive option while dining out.”

New data from Mintel Menu Insights shows the number of U.S. menu items with poultry as an ingredient has climbed an average of 12 percent in the past three years and is expected to continue to increase in the next one to two years. The greatest growth has come from the casual dining segment followed by fast casual eateries.

Chicken fingers are the top poultry dish and have shown a 10 percent increase on menus from Q1 2009 to Q1 2012, dominating quick-service and family/midscale settings, due in large part to children’s menus and appetizer lists. 

Buffalo wings continue to fly high in menu mentions, with a 19 percent increase in the same time frame. Where chicken sandwiches show a steep decline (-36 percent), chicken wraps are picking up the slack by increasing their menu mentions by 35 percent. Pizza is also jumping on the chicken bandwagon, with a 26 percent increase of chicken as a pizza topping.

The new trend of chicken snacks is also taking menus by storm. From McDonald’s Chicken McBites to Whataburger’s new Whatachick’n Bites and White Castle’s Chicken Rings, snack-sized, dip-friendly chicken is a new part of the quick-service roster. With so much competition, better quality (full-pieced, white-meat) chicken and distinct sauces are emerging as the ways to set one brand apart from the next.

"Chicken is a versatile ingredient,” Hayden says. “In the future, you can expect to see it used in more ways, from pulled chicken sandwiches and bowls to more home-styled meals, like pot pies and stews."


than whats in your swimming pool! And then the chicken is injected with unbelieveable amounts of Sodium to kill the smell. Due you want me to continue. This goes for all chicken except ORGANICMcDonalds, Wendys, and the other restaurants are being aloud to cause the cancer rate threw the roof. Thank you F.D.A and all the government angencies that allow this to continueKeep on filling up the pockets of our corrupted government. lobbist and you know who else?Unbelieveable, what a world we live in or I should say die in

Agreeing with Sharon. Don't forget the FDA admitted arsenic has been in our chicken for decades. I for one will not eat meat in this country. The FDA and USDA are so corrupt you can't trust any of them. The US government is certainly not FOR the people, if it ever was. After giving up meat and dairy for almost 6 months, my weight has returned to a normal weight for my size and all health problems including a stuffy nose has completely disappeared. Sorry USDA, people do not need beef or chicken at all. The protein myth is just that, a myth. And milk helping fight osteoporosis and bone decay? Why are we one of the country's with the highest amount of hip fractures when we consume more milk and dairy products than anyone else? another myth busted. Don't believe what they tell you, milk does not do a body good. Vegetables do.

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