The Surprising Ingredient That’s Driving Menu Sales Everywhere

Published on: 01/08/2019 in Culinary Trends

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Animal based proteins are more popular than ever. When asked to think back to their last meal or snack containing any meat or poultry, more than half of consumers said they had eaten meat or poultry that day, while 41 percent said they had eaten animal proteins within the past two to three days.1


As one of consumers’ favorite proteins,1 chicken is almost always found on lunch and dinner menus, regardless of style of cuisine. Chicken has also been appearing more often on breakfast and brunch menus. The versatility and universal appeal of chicken makes it the perfect protein to help drive menu opportunities and increase check averages. Here are four things to keep in mind when your customers want to elevate their chicken offerings and boost their bottom line.


Blurred Dayparts

In recent years, chicken has become one of the top 10 most menued breakfast proteins2, appearing in applications like chicken apple sausage and chicken & waffles.2 According to Technomic, 43% of consumers aged 18 to 34 want menus to offer more chicken for breakfast.3 This could mean more profit opportunities for operators.


As breakfast grows in popularity, restaurants are offering a variety of imaginative breakfast-inspired dishes throughout the day, many of which, feature chicken. Party Fowl, based in Nashville, pairs fried chicken with caramelized apple-stuffed French toast. Cracker Barrel serves a twist on traditional eggs benedict featuring buttermilk biscuits topped with crispy fried chicken, over-easy eggs and a savory pimento cheese sauce. First Watch recently started serving Chicken Chimichurri Hash featuring all-natural chicken with eggs, potatoes, onions and kale.


Versatile and On-Trend

Chicken may just be the most versatile animal protein, which is why it can be found on more than 90% of restaurant menus in the US.4 From classics like Italian-inspired Chicken Parmesan to the iconic Chinese dish, General Tso’s Chicken, this popular poultry can be found in nearly every type of cuisine. And consumers want more of it—45% of consumers who eat chicken strongly agree that restaurants should offer more chicken entrées with ethnic flavor or ingredients.5


Some of the biggest food trends in recent years—chicken & waffles, Nashville hot chicken, Korean fried chicken—have featured the humble bird as the starring ingredient. Meanwhile, rotisserie chicken, fried chicken and chicken sandwiches are predicted to become go-to dishes this year as consumers seek out affordable comfort food.6 Based on the average monthly increase, Grubhub, the nation's leading online and mobile food-ordering company, predicts chicken lettuce wraps, brick-pressed chicken and Korean fried chicken wings to be among the most popular orders this year.7


Regardless of cuisine and application, consumers want transparency. Forty-seven percent of consumers say it’s important for restaurants to be transparent about where they source their poultry.5


Premium Menu Claims

The demand for menu transparency has led many operators to rethink how they source food, especially when it comes to animal proteins. With greater knowledge around antibiotics, hormones and even animal welfare, consumers have made it clear they want to know where their food comes from and expect restaurant menus to reflect this.


When research shows that antibiotic-free8 and organic9 claims influence consumer purchasing decisions and can lead to increased profits, it’s time to take notice. Nearly 90% of consumers prefer eating organic chicken in restaurants and 80% have said they would pay more for chicken that is certified USDA Organic.9 Therefore, it’s no surprise that 82% of operators say clean labels will influence their purchasing decisions going forward.10


As antibiotic-free and organic become more mainstream claims, animal welfare has gained greater importance among consumers. Seventy-seven percent of consumers are concerned about the welfare of animals raised for food11 and therefore nearly 60% of operators plan to seek or are actively seeking out products that are humanely raised.12


Poultry Sourcing

Diners have come to expect elevated meat offerings like premium cuts of beef with well distributed marbling, so why should chicken be any different? When it comes to finding high-quality poultry suppliers that check every box, look no further than Perdue Foodservice. Since introducing organic chicken and No Antibiotics Ever products in foodservice, Perdue has been leading the way in powerful advantage-driven poultry claims, such as “No Antibiotics Ever” and “all vegetarian fed with no animal by products.” Perdue was also the first major company to commit to implementing systemwide progressive practices in raising animals.


Instead of transitioning all chicken offerings to be No Antibiotics Ever and/or organic, encourage your customers to offer premium chicken as an upselling opportunity. For example, operators who menu a kale Caesar salad with grilled chicken could charge diners $1.50 more for those who are looking to upgrade to organic chicken. With Perdue Foodservice, your customers can provide their diners a choice of conventional versus more-premium chicken offerings. At the end of the day, consumers are willing to pay more for that higher-quality cut of grass-fed beef, so why wouldn’t they pay more for premium chicken?


Perdue’s Commitments to Animal Care program goes well beyond most other companies’ commitments, to encompass not only the animals, but also the people who care for and handle them, as well as the stakeholders who have an interest in this area. As a leader in the foodservice industry, PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® No Antibiotics Ever Chicken and Turkey and USDA Certified Organic Chicken can satisfy your customers’ diverse menu needs while still satisfying diners’ current demands for complete transparency.


Regardless of daypart and type of cuisine, consumers have come to expect chicken to be available when dining away from home. Chicken has always been a menu staple and is expected to continue to help drive menu sales, especially when operators can increase profit potential with premium claims such as “no antibiotics ever” and “organic.” Help your customers elevate their chicken offerings and maximize profitability.

1 Fitzpatrick, Tara, “Data: Meat and poultry trends,” Food Management, Jan. 18, 2018,

2 Nation’s Restaurant News, “Protein. It’s What’s For Breakfast,” Oct. 23, 2017,

3 Harvey, Aimee, “Menu Trend Watch: Chicken for Breakfast,” CSP, Mar. 30, 2017,

4 Lee, Renee, “Meat & poultry trends: America runs on chicken, and beef really is what’s for dinner,” SmartBrief, Jan. 29, 2018,

5 Technomic, Poultry well-positioned to gain share of stomach at restaurants, Apr. 6, 2017,

6 Thorn, Bret, “15 food and beverage trends to expect In 2018,” Nation’s Restaurant News, Nov. 4, 2017,

7 Grubhub, “Grubhub Uncovers Delivery Trends and Predicts The Next Top Foods In Annual ‘Year In Delivery’ Report, Dec. 6, 2017,

8 Technomic, Healthy: What Matters?, April 2017

9 Proprietary Perdue operator study, April 2017

10 Dina, Berta, “How Foodservice Operators Are Keeping Up With The Demand For Transparency,” FoodService Director, Jun. 15, 2016,

11 Lake Research Partners, “ASPCA Labeling—Online Survey Public Memo, June 2016

12 Datassential, The New Healthy, 2016