Flexibility Boosts Chicken Sales

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Results from the 2008 Consumer Market for Chicken 1,000 Household Survey found that 23% of respondents had purchased rotisserie chicken in four weeks prior to the survey. Consumers with an income of $75,000 or more are the most likely purchasers of rotisserie chicken (31%). Those with an income of $30,000 to $39,999 are the least likely to purchase (16%). Shoppers in the 25 to 49-year-old bracket were most likely to purchase rotisserie chicken from a takeout restaurant or convenience store (59%). Those 65 years of age and older were the least likely (40%).

Chicken continues to hold pride of place in c-store foodservice programs. From the classic fried and nuggets popular in the South to chicken pesto panini sandwiches and chicken and mushroom buns in California, chicken is boosting channel foodservice sales nationwide.

Though many people consider fried chicken a Southern dish, the National Chicken Council said other regions of the country have tweaked this traditional favorite to great advantage—the concept of cooking wings in peppery hot sauce was actually born in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y., when co-owner Teressa Bellissimo cooked leftover wings in hot sauce as a late-night snack for her son and his friends. The boys liked them so much the Bellissimos put them on the menu the next day and “Buffalo wings” became an instant hit.

Sam’s Food Stores in Hartford, Conn., is another example of a Southern favorite gone north. In addition to selling gas 24/7, owner Rashid Mahmood offers fried chicken by the piece, or as part of a meal deal that includes battered fried potato wedges, a dinner roll and hot or barbecue sauce.

Customers pack the store every night. “After the clubs get out, most restaurants are closed,” said Mashmood, who owns the three-store chain, all of which serve freshly prepared foods around the clock. “Sometimes it looks like we are having the after-party or something.”

Foodservice is growing at a faster rate than the overall stores, according to David Bishop, managing partner of Balvor in Barrington, Ill.

Most retailers are offering bundled meals anchored with a food item and a higher margin dispensed beverage. “Bundled meals help simplify consumer choice and speed up the service time, while also increasing the penny profit per transaction for the retailer,” Bishop added.

Melanie Bowman, manager of One Stop stores in Johnson City, Tenn., found customers who buy lunch and dinner packages drive her broasted chicken sales. “A mom or dad will pick up a family pack that includes chicken, two sides and bread and take it home for the evening meal,” she said “They can feed a family of four for under $20.” Bowman’s store offers a huge variety of side options.

In addition to providing menu flexibility, chicken has proved to have price flexibility as well.

“We’re doing more value plates,” said Famima vice president Pervez Pir. “Every month we offer a combo, like chicken nuggets and a drink—something that allows customers to get a meal without dropping a lot of money.”


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