Chicken is America’s favorite meat, hands down. No other meat comes close to chicken’s popularity. Don’t believe it? Check out these statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In 2018, Americans consumed 93.8 pounds of chicken per capita. The meat group closest to chicken in 2018 was beef, with 57.2 pounds per capita — a wide gap. In fact, chicken makes up 43% of all meat consumed in the U.S. According to the USDA, “Chicken began its upward climb in the 1940s, overtaking pork in 1996 as the second most consumed meat.” Since 1996, chicken has been a favorite of both consumers and chefs alike.
WHY IS CHICKEN SO POPULAR?
Many have speculated on what makes chicken so popular. Here are some of the reasons we think it’s holding the title as America’s favorite meat.
Perhaps the biggest reason chicken is so popular is its versatility. Chicken is easily paired with a variety of flavors, cooking methods and recipes, meaning you find it in a variety of restaurants across America. Because chicken’s taste isn’t as overpowering as other proteins, nearly every cuisine type has a chicken dish.
As consumers become more invested in wellness and mindful eating, chicken continues to gain popularity because of its relevance on a “healthy” menu. Chicken is high in protein and low in calories, fat and cholesterol. It has essential vitamins like iron, zinc and vitamin B.
In some instances, familiarity lends to popularity, and that’s certainly the case with chicken. It’s available at an affordable price point in nearly any supermarket, making chicken a frequent protein in home kitchens.
PROJECTED TO WIN THE POPULAR VOTE
Currently, there’s no sign of chicken losing its grip on its popularity. Consumers continue to choose chicken in both foodservice establishments and at home, and chefs continue to develop menus with chicken as the main protein. The USDA predicts Americans will consume a record 94.2 pounds per capita in 2020. There’s no question — chicken is America’s favorite meat.