- Americans eat about 8 billion chickens annually on average.
- In 2021, the US produced roughly 9.2 billion chickens.
- Broiler chicken is the most consumed meat in the US, even surpassing beef and pork, at 96.4 pounds per capita.
- Americans consumed about 1.4 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday 2022.
- Almost one-fifth of fresh chicken goes to waste in the US.
- KFC had 3,943 units in 2020, and it’s the most popular chicken chain restaurant.
- Americans consumed about 28 pounds of chicken in 1960, but that number increased to 98.1 pounds in 2021.
- The US consumes more chicken than any other country.
- Intensive farming is the most common chicken farming method despite the fact that it leads to poor welfare for the chickens.
- Worldwide, people eat 197 million chickens per day.
General Chicken Consumption
US consumption of chicken has reached an all-time high and has even surpassed that of beef, which used to be the top meat.
Despite chicken shortages, Americans are still eating the meat, and the US even exports some to other countries, though not all of the produced chicken gets eaten.
How Many Chickens Are Consumed in the US?
- Americans consume more than 21.9 million chickens each day.
- An individual hen produces 325 eggs per year on average.
- There are about three chickens for every person in the world.
- People eat chicken by itself, in soups, or stuff it with other things.
- Chicken consumption has gone up in recent years even as the price of chicken has risen.
- A shortage of chickens has somewhat contributed to a shortage of and price increase of eggs.
- Iowa is one of the largest producers of chickens in the US, and it contributes roughly $2 billion to the economy in the state.
- About 9.8 million broiler chicken eggs hatched in the US in 2020.
- The US exports about 7.3 billion pounds of chicken per year.
- Americans keep about 925 million pounds of meat from chickens in cold storage at a given time.
- Chicken breast makes up the largest portion of cold storage, at just under 24%.
- Tyson Foods is one of the leading producers of chicken meat.
- The average American will consume 2,232 chickens in their life.
- Going meat-free one day per week could save about 319 chickens in your lifetime.
- Cutting meat out of your diet for six days a week would save 1,913 chickens.
- Chickens make up about 95% of all meat that Americans eat.
- Americans making the switch from beef to chicken has cut down on the need for feed input.
- Overall, chicken consumption from restaurants grew by around 24% in 2021.
- The relatively small chain Dave’s Hot Chicken saw the fastest growth, at 327%.
- Interest in plant-based meat alternatives has grown by 1,320% in recent years.
Chicken Consumption at Home
A lot of Americans have started eating chicken at home, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, and that trend isn’t expected to stop soon.
From organic chicken to chicken legs, sales of some types of chicken have grown in the past couple of years.
- Americans consume roughly 25 billion chicken wings in a year.
- Organic chicken increased from 2% to 6% of all chicken consumed from 2017 to 2022.
- Sales of organic chicken have increased faster than sales of other types of chicken.
- Organic and free-range chickens tend to taste better than traditionally-farmed chicken.
- In 2021, chicken with no antibiotics increased to 36.8% of all grocery store chicken sales.
- Grocery chicken sales increased by about 9.9% from the middle of 2021 to the middle of 2022.
- Inflation has hit chicken harder than many other items, with an average price increase of about 17.6% year over year.
- Despite the inflation, Americans are still looking to consume it, though they’re finding ways to save money.
- Chicken legs are one of the cheapest options, at $1.26 per pound.
- The price of chicken wings surpassed chicken breasts after a $0.62 increase compared to a $0.42 increase in breast prices.
- Online chicken sales have grown significantly in recent years.
- Chicken breast makes up 58% of all chicken sales at grocery stores.
- The retail chicken market is worth $13.7 billion.
- Dark meat chicken sales are growing faster than white meat sales.
- Increased demand for poultry has had one of the biggest impacts on the market.
- Chicken sales have increased by 14% compared to sales in 2019.
- One investigation by the Department of Justice found price gouging to be a huge problem when it comes to chicken prices.
- The high levels of processing and packaging make chicken tenders the hardest type of chicken to find at stores.
- Supply chain issues have caused Tyson Foods to produce about 8.5% less chicken quarter over quarter.
- Rotisserie chickens have generally stayed the same price recently, especially at stores like Costco.
- Costco sells about 106 million rotisserie chickens per year.
- In 2019, Costco opened a processing plant so that it could make its own rotisserie chickens to help keep costs down.
- Many grocery stores have kept rotisserie chickens low to help bring in customers so that they can make money in other areas.
- Salmonella infected about a third of ground chicken collected in a study.
- Consuming food infected with salmonella makes about 212,000 people sick each year on average.
- In the first half of 2020, about 48% of Americans purchased poultry or other meat products at grocery stores, probably due to the increase in cooking at home.
- Around 52% of those surveyed in 2020 said they’d probably continue to buy poultry or other meats from grocery stores after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Just over half (51%) of Americans will find alternative meat options when their first choice is out of stock.
- Only 11% of Americans look for plant-based alternatives when they can’t find the meat they want.
- Manufacturers water chill 99% of all chickens, which can cause them to lose their flavor.
- Around 10% of chickens that you can buy in the grocery store have some sort of antibiotic resistance, which can cause you to get sick.
- Over 1.5 billion pounds of poultry meat go to waste each year.
- Sales of chicken combo packs and chicken ingredient packs have increased by 5.3% and 2.6%, respectively.
- Shorter production cycles have helped combat some of the problems relating to the chicken shortage.
Chicken Consumption at Restaurants
Even though many people eat at home more, restaurants are still a popular place to get food, and chicken is a more common choice than you may think.
From larger chicken chains to smaller, local chains, Americans have continued to visit chicken restaurants or even started visiting new ones.
- Chick-fil-a is the highest-grossing chicken restaurant chain in the US, and it made $5.8 billion in revenue in 2021.
- KFC and Popeyes are second and third for largest chicken chains, though they both have more locations than Chick-fil-a.
- The fast food chicken market has a value of about $55 billion as of 2022.
- Fast food chicken franchises are expected to grow by 9.4% by the end of the year.
- This market for fast food chicken has grown faster than the overall US economy.
- Many urban residents eat at restaurants to help save time.
- Raising Cane’s saw an increase of 38% in sales from 2020 to 2021.
- Sales at WingStop grew by 21% in the same time.
- Chicken wings are the fasting-growing chicken menu item at restaurants.
- Consumption of fried chicken at restaurants has actually decreased by almost 30% in the last year.
- Americans eat fried chicken from restaurants about twice per year on average.
- You can find fried chicken in about 22.29% of all restaurants in the US.
Chicken Consumption on Special Occasions
Super Bowl weekend is one of the biggest weekends of the year for chicken consumption, especially chicken wings.
Consider how much the consumption of wings has increased, especially around holidays and major sporting events.
- Super Bowl Sunday is the most popular day for Americans to eat chicken wings.
- On SB Sunday alone, Americans ate enough chicken wings to circle the Earth just under three times.
- That amount of chicken weighs as much as 338 times the weight of all 32 NFL teams.
- The southeastern US eats about 13% more chicken wings than average.
- On Super Bowl weekend, about 75% of chicken wing orders come from restaurants compared to 25% from retail food stores.
- It would take one person over 1,265 years to consume all of the wings that all Americans consume on Super Bowl Sunday.
- The consumption of chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday rises by about 1.1% each year.
- Chicken wing prices rose by about $0.05 per pound from 2021 to 2022.
- Each year, chicken wings tend to increase in price leading up to the Super Bowl.
- From Super Bowl Sunday 2021 to December 2021, the amount of chicken wings available almost doubled from 36.7 million pounds to 73.2 million pounds.
- Americans consume more than 710 million chickens on Super Bowl weekend alone.