Sep 11, 2019

Chicken consumption is closing in on red meat

Data: USDA, National Chicken Council; Chart: Axios Visuals

Popeyes only makes up a small portion of profits for owner Restaurant Brands International, but the success of its chicken sandwich could change the calculus for the brand.

The big picture: Chicken has been an increasing share of Americans' diets since the 1980s when doctors began warning that eating too much saturated fat from red meat could increase the risk of heart disease.

  • Last year more poultry than red meat was eaten by U.S. consumers per capita, with chicken almost closing the gap with a combination of beef, pork, veal and mutton/lamb by itself.
  • Popeyes already is growing faster than both Restaurant Brands International's Tim Hortons and Burger King, according to Q2 results.

The intrigue: Chicken also has become much less expensive in recent years, driving a surge in buying from cash-strapped U.S. workers who have seen the costs of health care, education and housing skyrocket while their paychecks have stayed roughly the same.

  • "In 1960 a pound of chicken cost half as much as a pound of beef. This ratio has now fallen to one-third," the Economist notes.
  • "The proliferation of antibiotics in industrial agriculture allows farmers to keep chickens in denser and dirtier conditions than ever before. A study by Martin Zuidhof from the University of Alberta found that the average broiler chicken, raised for meat, weighed 4.2kg at 56 days of age in 2005, up from just 0.9kg in 1957."

Go deeper: Popeyes' chicken sandwich and the future of fast food

Go deeper

Popeyes' chicken sandwich and the future of fast food

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The popularity of the recently unveiled — and more recently shelved — Popeyes chicken sandwich was unlike anything KeyBanc Capital Markets equity research analyst Eric Gonzalez had ever seen.

What it means: For the short time in August that it was available, Gonzalez estimates Popeyes' store traffic doubled and about 1,000 chicken sandwiches were sold in each store every day, accounting for about 30% of total sales.

Go deeperArrowSep 11, 2019

Beef prices tumble as America's tastes shift toward chicken

A butcher arranges meat products. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Chicken is starting to become Americans' favorite meat and beef looks to be be paying the price, per Bloomberg.

Why it matters: While there’s normally a decrease in demand of beef around this time at the end of grilling season, the declines this year are far more drastic than usual and beef prices are tumbling.

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019

McDonald's rolls out test of plant-based Beyond Meat burger

Graphic: McDonald's

McDonald's will test the PLT — the plant, lettuce and tomato burger — for 12 weeks in 28 restaurants in Canada, the AP reports.

Between the buns: The burgers aren't really aimed at vegans or vegetarians, but at meat eaters who perceive plant-based eating as healthier and more environmentally conscious.

Go deeperArrowSep 27, 2019