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The Demand For This Grocery Item Is Skyrocketing Despite Inflation

Record prices are no detriment to hungry consumers.

Based on the fundamental law of demand, when the price of a product increases, demand will simultaneously drop. But that certainly hasn't been the case for one staple grocery store item this year.

According to the July 2022 Consumer Price Index, the cost of chicken has jumped over 17% compared to 2021—the largest increase among all meat categories. On average, shoppers are currently paying around $1.80 per pound for fresh whole chicken and more than twice that amount for boneless chicken breasts.

Higher feed prices, increased shipping costs, weather issues, and the effects from the Avian flu—which has wiped out millions of birds across the country this year—have all influenced the price tag consumers face at the store.

But sales of the staple protein have not faltered. In fact, they are up nearly 10% year over year for chicken products of all kinds, according to market research firm IRI.

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chicken aisle

"Chicken is typically a big go-to during recessionary times, given its favorable price per pound compared to some of the other big proteins," Anne-Marie Roerink, the principal of 210 Analytics LLC and contributor to The Food Industry Association's Power of Meat 2022 report, told Supermarket News.

David Sanz, meat and seafood merchandiser at PCC Community Markets, additionally shared that consumers lean toward chicken because it is perceived as easier to prepare compared to other meat options.

Because of these reasons, demand has continued to skyrocket. However, as a result of higher prices and a more limited supply, shoppers have been forced to broaden their horizons in terms of which chicken products they purchase.

Dark meat options like wings and thighs have become popular low-cost alternatives to standard chicken breasts. Bulk buying of chicken products like ground chicken is on the rise. And, consumers have also taken a liking to ready-to-cook options such as pre-marinated chicken breasts, skewers, and wings.

The reign of chicken as a top protein choice is clearly far from over despite the added strain on consumers' wallets. According to senior vice president of the IRI's Protein Practice Chris DuBois, interest in the chicken category will keep growing as Millennials—a group that currently purchases 20% more chicken than the average U.S. household—continue to take over the market.

Megan Hageman
Megan is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Megan