Bad news for most is nearly always good news for someone.
Bad news for most is nearly always good news for someone. This truism favored value-added chicken during a recent 52-week period. American households' budgetary troubles made them eat at home more, and the higher demand led to higher prices per pound and dollar sales gains for this high-flying category.
The family desire for convenient, tasty center-plate chicken meals had households make room in their kitchens for cuts that were marinated, seasoned, stuffed, in strips, on kabobs, or in the form of roasters, fryers/broilers, or stewing chickens. All value-added chicken subcategories but one grew in U.S. dollar sales during the 52 weeks ended March 28, 2009, according to the Perishables Group, a Chicago-based market research firm that tracks and analyzes retail sales data of fresh foods in grocery stores representing 61.4% of national supermarket ACV share.
The two hottest subcategories were value-added whole chicken and wings:
• Whole chicken was the only one to increase both dollars and volume while the average retail price rose in the latest 52 weeks. Dollar sales rose by 22.9% to $17.1 million from $13.9 million a year earlier, while volume soared by 20.8% to 8,043,614 pounds from 6,657,987 pounds a year ago. Concurrently, the average retail price rose by 1.8% to $2.13 from $2.09.
• Chicken wings posted the highest percentage volume growth (109.5% to 6,837,040 pounds from 3,263,809 pounds the year before) while the average retail price dropped by 17.8% to $2.49 from $3.02 in the prior year. The result was a hefty 72.3% surge in dollar sales to $17.0 million from $9.9 million in the previous 12 months.
The rest of the value-added chicken category turned in mixed results:
• Chicken breasts rang up a 3.5% dollar sales increase to $136.7 million from $132.1 million a year earlier. A 6.3% retail price rise to $4.42, up from $4.16 a year ago, drove the overall dollar growth, since shoppers shifted to less expensive cuts and volume slipped by 2.7% to 30,936,097 pounds from 31,783,116 pounds the year before, the data show.
• Meanwhile, the two least costly chicken parts - legs/drumsticks and thighs - represent the smallest contribution to total category sales, and they eked out comparatively small dollar sales gains in the latest 52 weeks. For example, the legs/drumsticks posted the third-highest poundage at 9,634,072 pounds on a 4.5% gain, but its low $1.45 price (down 0.5% from $1.46) enabled it to post only a 4.0% gain in total dollar sales to $14.0 million. By contrast, thighs rang up a meager 0.8% dollar sales gain to $3.3 million, on the strength of a 12.4% retail price rise to $1.95 (up from $1.73), since volume fell 10.3% to 1,695,211 pounds.
• The 'other' chicken subcategory was the only loser in total dollar sales, down 7.7% to $53.8 million. Nonetheless, it held its number two category position despite a 13.9% volume decline to 10,354,769 pounds and a 7.2% retail price rise to $5.19.