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Around the world, demand for chicken continues to grow. In the US alone, chicken consumption has skyrocketed from 28 pounds per capita to 98 pounds a year (Mashed, 2022). So how can operators and manufacturers keep the category exciting and relevant? As meat prices rise and consumer dining habits change, finding ways to address health, flavor and sustainability with chicken innovation are key to making an impact.
Consider fried chicken, with food cultures all over the world presenting their own spin on this beloved dish. After the rise of Korean fried chicken, we expect to see Taiwanese popcorn chicken and fiery Indian chicken 65 as the next “hot” global varieties. Grocery retailers are staking their claim on the crispy chicken sandwich trend that started in QSR, expanding into grab-and-go sandwiches and meal kits that align with consumers’ need for convenience and variety, as spotted in the UK, South Africa and more.
From a nutrition standpoint, chicken benefits from its health halo and consumer desire to boost protein intake while watching cholesterol and fat (The National Provisioner, 2022). Many consumers surveyed in South America and the EU say they’re increasing chicken consumption while cutting back on red meat (Mintel, 2023). Still others are exploring plant-based alternatives made from yellow peas, mushroom root or chickpea flour. One plant-based US chain is finding success serving what they claim to be the ”best chicken sandwich on the market…[that] just so happens to be made of plants” (NRN, 2022). And in India, plant-based chicken is taking off as a “planet-friendly” solution to animal protein.
On the snacking side, chicken flavors are driving innovation in the chip category—especially in Colombia and the US. We’re also seeing chicken skins being used to deliver the texture of traditional potato chips, without the carbs. Chicken bars, bites and jerky are found on retail shelves across Europe and South America, and this category is starting to gain more traction in North America, too. In China, almost half of consumers eat meat-based snacks weekly (Mintel, 2023), and a range of preparation techniques are used to create chicken snacks in that market, as well as in Thailand and Japan.
It's all about balance. Operators have enhanced their menus with a mix of health-conscious and eco-friendly meat alternatives, alongside indulgent chicken sandwiches. They're also finding ways to incorporate global flavors into chicken dishes.
Plant-based "chicken" products are driving innovation as consumers seek more sustainable alternatives to poultry products. New flavors and formats are helping to meet demand for authentic chicken taste and texture in these meatless items.
CPG brands are highlighted high protein and sustained energy claims in new chicken snacks, which target consumers' dynamic lifestyles and varying dietary needs.
Watch Chef Ryan Flick create AP “Pollo Asado” with textured wheat protein, soy bean curd and Griffith Foods Alternative Protein Chicken Seasoning and Binder. He’ll also demonstrate how to use Griffith Foods Pollo Asado Chipotle Adobo Flavour Glaze to add a savory crisp to the “skin” during the cooking process.
This bold and flavorful sandwich pulls inspiration from the classic Cubano but takes it in a brand-new direction. Marinate chicken in a zesty mojo sauce, grill, and serve on crusty French bread with jalapeño mayonnaise, Swiss cheese, crunchy beetroot chips and habanero orange sauce.
Featuring Griffith Foods Cuban Mojo Sauce Seasoning and Marinade, Custom Culinary® Habanero Orange Sauce, and Custom Culinary® Jalapeño Relish
Seasonings and sauces from Griffith Foods and Custom Culinary® deliver mouthwatering flavor and texture that elevate and differentiate your chicken offerings. And we’re proud of the exceptional ingredients that go into these products. Chilis, oregano and sage—all of which pair perfectly with chicken—are cultivated through our strategic sourcing program, Griffith Sustainably Sourced (GSS). GSS creates farm-level integration of our supply chain to increase the amount of raw materials sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, improve the well-being of farmers and enable farm-to-table traceability. It’s all about creating shared value for our customers, our partners and the environment.
“Looking for the secret to signature chicken? Start by brining your chicken, then briefly poach and quickly chill in ice water to tighten the skin. Pat the chicken dry, lightly season and roast at a high temperature for the ultimate roasted chicken—perfectly crispy skin and juicy, flavorful meat that will keep customers coming back for more.”
–Chef Mark Serice, Vice President Global Culinary, Griffith Foods
On the plant-based protein side, techniques such as cell cultivation may help to break through a crowded innovation landscape. As a whole, the chicken industry will need to increase communication surrounding responsible agricultural methods and animal welfare claims.
Chicken snacks will evolve beyond crisps and jerky. By leaning further into upcycling processes, parts of the chicken that may normally go to waste can be used to create snacks that meet the demands of environmentally conscious consumers.
Traditional chicken dishes will continue to be reinvented for today’s menus. Operators can highlight the inherent versatility of chicken while expanding consumers’ palettes with globally inspired recipes.
Jennifer Mathews, “The Surprising History Of Korean Fried Chicken's Journey Into The Mainstream,” Mashed, Sep 6, 2022
Mark Hamstra, “Project Pollo seeks to break new ground in plant-based QSR,” Nation’s Restaurant News, Aug 31, 2022
Mintel, 2023 FlavorIQ® Food and Flavor Outlook Report, Jan 2023
Richard Mitchell, “2022 Poultry Report: The chicken craze continues,” The National Provisioner, Jan 20, 2022