What's for dinner tonight? There's a good chance it's chicken — now the number one species consumed by Americans.

There are two big reasons behind this poultry push. The first is economic: Chicken is cheaper than beef. As beef prices have risen and will continue to do so, many chain restaurants’ menu R&D efforts have shifted to chicken… as a way to offer innovation around a protein that is less expensive than beef.

The other reason is consumer perception: Specifically, even if it’s slathered with mayo, stacked with bacon and cheese or even encased in a crispy shell, we think chicken is better for us. Chicken also is a good for smaller-portioned “snack” items, which are popular right now with fast food diners.

If there is one word that describes chicken, it is versatility. Roasted, broiled, grilled or poached, and combined with a wide range of herbs and spices, chicken makes a delicious, flavorful and nutritious meal. It is available to enjoy throughout the year.

The popularity of chicken has grown steadily over the last century. In 2010, Americans ate 37.2 billion pounds of chicken, compared to 26.4 billion pounds of beef, 22.5 billion pounds of pork, 5.8 billion pounds of turkey, and only 0.3 billion pounds of veal, lamb, and mutton.

Fun Fact

Chicken Wings & Super Bowl Sunday

On Super Bowl weekend, Americans are expected to eat 1.25 billion chicken wings -- that's 100 million pounds -- according to a new report by the National Chicken Council. If the wings were laid end-to-end, they would circle the circumference of the Earth more than twice, which is about a quarter of the way to the moon. Super Bowl Sunday is the most popular day for wing-eating for the whole year; 25 billion wings are projected to be eaten in 2012 and five percent of those will likely be consumed on February 5. Wing consumption on Super Bowl Sunday is three times higher than on any other Sunday in the year.


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