What role will sustainability, animal welfare and other consumer trends play?
Consumer trends radically transformed during COVID-10. How will these chicken consumption trends continue to evolve over the next decade?
During the 2022 Chicken Marketing Summit, a panel of industry experts shared their thoughts on potential chicken consumption trends for the year 2030.
1. Poultry costs will continue to go up
Cost of capital will continue going up with the impacts of inflation.
“The chicken industry deals with a lot of debt in terms of land and chicken houses,” Mark Jordan, executive director and chief livestock and poultry economist, LEAP Market Analytics, said.
For example, data from the U.S. Federal Reserve indicates that higher borrowing costs will continue to exacerbate increasing construction costs. In part, this is due to new technologies, like automation, that are integrated into new construction or renovations to existing facilities.
The costs of grain and other poultry feeds are also likely to increase in the next decade as crop yields continue to decline.
2. Younger generations will place a greater value on sustainability.
Sustainability will play an even larger role than it does today, Chris DuBois, senior vice president and principal, IRI, noted.
The term sustainability has already broadened beyond environmental issues to include animal welfare and social issues.
Sustainably-marketed items currently account for 17% of all sales, according to research from IRI and the New York University Stern School of Business.
“We’re seeing big growth in sustainability, and it means a lot to consumers,” he explained.
In particular, sustainability is consistently rated as a topic of importance to Millennials and Generation X, the two demographics that will become increasingly important as purchasers in the next ten years.
“This generational flip is probably going to be one of the largest trends in the next decade,” said DuBois.
There are several ways the chicken industry could shift toward sustainability. Carbon labels – that show consumers the carbon impact of the product they buy – is one way. Regenerative agriculture is another.
3. Sustainability challenges will become brand opportunities
“One thing about our profession is that you have to be optimistic,” Jessica Langley, director of sustainability, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s US, said. “When I hear about these challenges, I view them as opportunities.”
The Pilgrim’s mission is about more than profits, but they also work hard to give back to their community. This includes considering the environmental impact and social stewardship of the communities around them, she added.
She acknowledged that sustainability can become an all-encompassing term, so they’ve chosen to focus on product integrity, water, animal welfare, team member health and safety and energy and climate change. These priority areas were chosen through conversations with stakeholders – employees, consumers, NGOs, etc.
“When I think about sustainability, it’s really about communicating what’s important to us. The reason this is important is because there are so many people who don’t understand what goes on during chicken production,” Langley explained.
4. Transparency will matter more than ever
Jon Hixson, chief sustainability officer and vice president of global government affairs, Yum! Brands shared the history of Yum! Brands animal welfare journey. In 2015, one of the company’s restaurant brands, Taco Bell, transitioned to cage-free eggs. The company also implemented a no human antibiotic policy a few years later.
In 2021, Yum! Brand switched globally to cage-free eggs following intense pressure from animal rights groups.
Over the past few years, they’ve worked better at telling the animal welfare story and communicating that these strategies are grounded in science and guided by suppliers.
Looking ahead to 2030, Hixson sees animal rights activists continue to evolve and change their message to reach consumers. In order to regain the narrative, chicken brands will need to be transparent about poultry health and welfare to properly educate and build trust with consumers.
Attend the 2023 Chicken Marketing Summit
Serving a unique cross section of the chicken supply chain, The Chicken Marketing Summit explores issues and trends in food marketing and consumer chicken consumption patterns and purchasing behavior.
The dates and location of the 2023 Chicken Marketing Summit will be announced soon!