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Why is Chicken the No. 1 Protein? We Asked, Americans Answered!

Since 1992, chicken has claimed the top consumption spot in the American protein kingdom, and consumers aren’t looking back anytime soon. When chicken first became our nation’s favorite protein over 30 years ago, the average American dined on 66.5 pounds of chicken per year. Chicken consumption has steadily gained momentum—almost annually—and in 2023, the average American ate an estimated 101.7 pounds of chicken! What’s more, national chicken consumption is projected to jump even higher in 2024!

So why is chicken such a stellar standout in the meat market? We surveyed 1,500 Americans to find out!1

The Chicken Trifecta Effect

Kids often love chicken nuggets because they’re easy to eat, fun to dunk, and of course, downright tasty. Though many adults never outgrow their love for chicken nuggets, we wanted to know why countless Americans continue putting this powerful protein on their plates, day in and day out.

According to our 2023 survey, Americans love chicken because of 3 key reasons:

  1. Nutritional value
  2. Affordability
  3. Reliability

After all, whether you’re taking a quick lunch break or making a family dinner, you often want a meal that tastes good and makes you feel good, stretches your wallet and delivers, time and again. What’s more, many Americans see chicken as a versatile protein everyone will enjoy, with nearly endless opportunities to customize taste and be creative in the kitchen.

But that’s not all we uncovered! Take a look—here are some more bite-sized tidbits about American chicken consumption:

🍽 98% of respondents eat chicken monthly, with most consumers eating the protein weekly.

🍽 65% of respondents perceive chicken as essential to their diet.

🍽 77% of respondents love to eat chicken more than any other protein.

🍽 65% of respondents enjoy preparing chicken more than any other protein.

🍽 40% of respondents would continue buying chicken, even if the price increased, regardless of the cost.

🍽 15% of respondents would reallocate spending money to keep purchasing chicken.

More Survey Results = More Chicken Love

One survey is great, but 2 is even better! This additional 2023 survey of 520 Americans focused on current and anticipated U.S. consumer behavior around fresh chicken consumption.2 Circana provided supporting data, and The National Chicken Council and WATT Global Media presented the findings at the 2023 Chicken Marketing Summit.

The results? Consumers shared that the affordable value and health benefits of chicken—as well as their confidence in its deliciousness—continue to propel this protein to the No. 1 spot in the meat market. What’s also impressive? ALL generations can align on their love of chicken, even if they value different attributes:

  • Gen Z and Millennials prioritize “organic” and “antibiotic-free” claims more than Baby Boomers.
  • Millennials rank chicken as their favorite protein in a home-cooked meal.
  • Baby Boomers who purchase fresh chicken consider a brand’s reputation much more important than Millennials do.

And yet, only 40% of respondents associated the statement, “more environmentally friendly and sustainable than other types of protein” with chicken. So if you aren’t already aware that chicken IS more sustainable than other protein options—and that the industry is managing to increase production while decreasing its environmental footprint—then explore our 2020 U.S. Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Report.

Anyone craving savory chicken by now? Then check out our digital cookbook, Chicken Roost, to satisfy that hunger… Until tomorrow, that is!


1These findings are derived from an online survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,500 American consumers, all of whom were required to have eaten chicken within the past 3 months. This survey was fielded between April 28 and May 5, 2023, at the 95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/-3.0%. 

2These findings are derived from an online survey of a nationally representative sample of 520 American consumers. This survey was fielded between June 22 and June 27, 2023, at the 95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/-3.0%.