Consumers cluck for more dark meat
People still eat much more of the white meat, experts say. But the juicy and only slightly fattier dark meat has gained favor because of lower prices amid a still-weak economy, a growing immigrant population and the proliferation of chicken sausages that use dark meat.
Greeley-based Pilgrim’s Pride, for one, has gradually increased sales of dark meat while reporting decreasing sales of breasts.
“Dark meat is making a run to begin to try to catch up (to white),” said Bill Roenigk, vice president and market economist for the National Chicken Council.
Producers traditionally have bred birds to have more breast than leg meat, so demand for legs has driven up their prices, Roenigk said.
Boneless, skinless thighs have caught up to the price of boneless, skinless breasts: Both cost around $1.35 a pound. Legs, while up, remain a more-affordable 50 cents per pound.
The recession has led consumers who would normally eat white meat to trade down, Stephen Koontz, associate professor and extension economist at Colorado State University, said in an e-mail.
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