Poultry in Motion

Wayne Farms

Emerging Chicken Trends for 2022

It’s not shocking we continue to see inflation rising on our supermarket shelves after a 12.8% increase in meat and poultry products alone in 2021. The issue is being examined at the highest levels in an effort to find solutions. The Biden administration recently held a roundtable discussion to talk through supply chain issues and potential remedies surrounding the meat and poultry industry, in hopes of providing consumers with better quality proteins at a lower cost – all without further disrupting the critical supply chain.

With all the flux in our industry right now, one thing does remain certain: utilizing “non-choice” cuts could be a saving grace for profit margins and pocketbooks and we’re seeing this notion come to life early in 2022. Bottom line—there are certain cuts of meat that are more affordable than others, and likely always will be. With choice cuts like wings and breast meat making up 20% of the whole bird, operators are finding better pricing and better margins when they can utilize more parts of the chicken on their menu.

It’s a common misconception that poultry prices are solely based on demand, when in fact, pricing models include the amount of time it takes to break down the bird. So while bone-in cuts are more flavorful and desired by world renowned chefs for their fat and flavor, they are also among the cheaper cuts on the supermarket shelves along with all dark meat choices. Dark meat and bone in cuts will be trending in 2022 and we think these savory superstars are ready for their moment in the sun. With inflation still climbing, we’re already seeing dark meat and bone-in entrée’s added to the menu at chain restaurants.

If you’re looking to plate a meat protein that’s a rising star in both cost and appeal, here are a few cuts you could utilize this year:

Have you heard of the “chicken lollipop” craze? From fine-dining to catering and kids parties, this trendy take on a chicken wing will have you saving and savoring. Drumsticks have long played second fiddle to the coveted chicken wing, but with wings making up only 10% of the bird, it’s no wonder we’ve seen a steep price increase. Drumsticks and specifically those turned into chicken lollipops are a trendy way to cut costs and keep the game day traditions going.

Several poultry suppliers have noted higher sales volumes on this “lesser than” cut towards the end of 2021 with some reporting double digit increases! Thighs are as versatile as a chicken breast and pack more flavor thanks to their fat content. Chains such as “Wingstop” have even introduced “thigh wings” and “Thighstop” as a way to utilize this flavorful, underappreciated cut.

Chicken leg quarters

A combo of the two cuts above, chicken leg quarters include both the leg and thigh of the bird – winner-winner chicken dinner! Without having to deconstruct this cut, BBQ and rotisserie come to mind. This affordable cut of meat packs a powerhouse of flavor and can stand up to high temperatures without drying out. Used as a filler in soups and stews, this dark meat can dramatically cut your costs without compromising flavor and quality.