April 24, 2012
US experiencing rising demand for dark poultry meat
Rising demand for dark poultry meat in the US is contributing to price increases for the product and helping the industry to recover from a 2011 slump.
Rising US immigrant populations, industry innovation that makes it easier for producers to supply boneless dark meat to satisfy domestic consumer demand, and growing exports to foreign markets that favour chicken on the bone have all contributed to the rise in demand.
US consumers prefer buying chicken without the bones, tendons and veins. Poultry processors have gotten better at deboning thanks to new manual and automated methods. Boneless, skinless thigh meat a decade ago sold for just over half the price of boneless, skinless breasts. That gap has disappeared, with prices for both cuts holding around US$1.30 a pound for the past nine months, according to data from the USDA.
Tyson Foods, the US's largest chicken producer by volume, is developing more products made from dark meat than ever before, including a new line of chicken sausages. The company said its grocery-store sales of boneless skinless cuts of dark meat are growing as well.
Competitor, Pilgrim's Pride is using the global reach of its majority shareholder, Brazil-based conglomerate JBS SA, to expand exports of dark meat and whole birds to Asia and the Middle East. Pilgrim's has said it is dedicating one of its US processing plants to filling export orders.