Holy cow, we’re eating a lot of chicken

Americans are increasingly wingin’ it. What’s that mean for the beef business?

In case it wasn’t clear from the chart above, America is an undeniable chick magnet.

per capita consumption of beef and chicken

The cows are probably happy. Heck, for nearly three decades Chick-fil-A has hired them to paint “Eat Mor Chikin” billboards, infiltrate burger boardrooms, parachute onto fields, and launch into space — all in the name of getting people to eat more bird.

But, for the cows, while some lives may be spared, paychecks probably won’t.

Chickening out

US chicken consumption per capita flew past beef in 1993 and hasn’t stopped since, per Bloomberg. This year, Americans are forecast to eat 100.9 pounds of chicken, on average, compared to 56.3 pounds of beef.

  • Across the US cattle production industry, 700k+ businesses generated $85B in 2022 revenue; meatpacking accounts for another $300B annually.

As feed prices and drought drive up production costs for beef on one end, competition from chicken is ruffling feathers on the other.

Why the fowl play?

If there’s one thing today that unites Americans across every demographic, it’s chicken.

  • Four of Grubhub’s 10 bestselling dishes in 2022 were chicken. One was beef.
  • The average Chick-fil-A store brings in $6.8m in annual revenue, compared to McDonald’s $3.6m, and Popeyes has 3x’d sales in five years.

BTW: While cows and chickens have long had beef, they may soon share a common enemy in cleaner, greener, lab-grown meats — cultivated meat companies raised $896m in 2022, and regulators are keeping the momentum going.

Topics: Food

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