Consumers Hungry For Chicken In The Morning

Those who rise when the rooster crows would like to see more of that poultry on the breakfast table.

According to recent polls by Technomic Inc., about 25 percent of consumers who eat chicken say they would very likely order chicken breakfast sandwiches at restaurants if such products were more readily available. Meanwhile, nearly 30 percent said they would like to see breakfast items featuring turkey sausage or turkey bacon.

"Poultry is a very versatile protein that can be positioned in a number of ways for different dayparts," Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice president, said in a statement Tuesday. "We've seen an increase in the number of turkey items on breakfast menus, and also some high-profile additions of chicken items at breakfast."

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Since 2008, both limited and full-service restaurants have increased their use of turkey on breakfast menus as a more healthful alternative to pork.

Chains ranging from Caribou Coffee and IHOP to Subway and Energy Kitchen have been promoting items made with turkey bacon at breakfast, for example.

"If you look at consumers who eat turkey at least occasionally, 22 percent say they are eating it more now for breakfast than they were two years ago, so there is clearly an opportunity," Tristano said.

IHOP recently featured fried chicken and waffles as a limited-time offer, and Hardee's has long offered a chicken fillet on a biscuit.

In fact, with the recent successful introduction of turkey burgers at Hardee's and sister brand Carl's Jr., officials with parent company CKE Restaurants Inc. told Nation's Restaurant News recently that guests have begun asking for turkey-sausage biscuits at breakfast, an idea the company is exploring.

Other findings from Chicago-based Technomic's poultry report:

• Consumers likely would be willing to pay more for poultry dishes if restaurants point out the product's lower fat content or highlight the lack of steroids or hormones.

• At limited-service restaurants, consumers prefer barbecue-flavored chicken sandwiches, while garlic is the seasoning of choice at full-service restaurants.

• About 50 percent of those polled said humane animal treatment and environmentally sound practices are becoming more important to them.

 — Lisa Jennings

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