CHICAGO — A change in the consumption of chicken items prompted some to question whether chicken strip sales are cannibalizing chicken nugget servings.
Servings of chicken strips at restaurants and other foodservice outlets increased by 16 percent in the quarter ending September 2018, compared to the same period last year when chicken nugget servings declined by 3 percent, according to the NPD Group.
NPD's receipt mining service, Checkout, found that chicken nuggets lost buyers, but those buyers did not switch to chicken strips. The two breaded chicken products appeal to different buyers, and the double-digit growth in chicken strip servings was prompted by innovation at quick-service restaurants and new fast-casual concepts built around chicken strips.
Despite the pessimistic outlook on chicken nuggets, the year ending September 2018 still saw 2.3 billion chicken nugget servings ordered, compared to 1.5 billion servings of chicken strips ordered. Additionally, chicken overall remains popular with consumers. The number of pounds of chicken shipped by broadline distributors to independent and micro/small chain restaurants and other foodservice outlets increased by 4 percent in the period compared to last year, NPD said.
"Innovative restaurant operators have taken a long time favorite food and elevated the offering," said David Portalatin, NPD food Industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. "Chicken strips have long been a consumer favorite, but when you take something that consumers already love and deliver value, or elevate the form as some fast casual concepts have, you have a strong platform for growth."