I know a lot of cattlemen are kind of uneasy about Chick-fil-A’s advertising campaign. Their results, however, have been outstanding, as Chick-fil-A surpassed KFC several years ago as the top chicken chain and continues to make gains. So much so, in fact, that Yum Brand, Inc., parent of KFC, has launched a new chicken chain, called Super Chix, in an effort to stanch the Chick-fil-A onslaught.
Why am I talking about chicken in a beef article? The first reason is that this should be a glorious time for the chicken industry. Beef is at historically high price levels, and pork prices are rising as well due to the impact of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has trimmed pork supplies.
Yes, chicken should be gaining market share at a historic clip, if for no other reason than their competitors’ supply challenges. Yet, chicken demand is struggling.
I have a daughter who likes to eat chicken on occasion. I have to admit that makes me a little nervous sometimes as I have to believe it is due to more than just a failure in upbringing. However, last weekend we were riding horses at a horse show and it had grown rather late. We hadn’t eaten dinner, so we decided utilize the nearest fast-food restaurant we could find, which turned out to be a Chick-fil-A.
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My wife went through the drive-through and brought the meal back to the fairgrounds, only to learn that the bag contained all the chicken we ordered but only a couple of containers of Chick-fil-A’s special sauce. So, three starving teenagers and myself ended up putting whatever chicken was left over in the dumpster once the sauce ran out.
To tell you the truth, I’d forgotten just how tasteless and bland chicken on its own really is. The reason we in the beef industry talk about price so much is because the threat from chicken is on the price front. Chicken, however, certainly can’t compete with beef on the basis of taste.
I really think we have thoroughly misunderstood the competitive position of chicken. In fact, I think we should be evaluating the chicken sauces and their cost when we do affordability comparisons of the proteins. After all, chicken fingers or chicken sandwiches are just a way to get the sauce to our mouths.
The views of Troy Marshall do not necessarily reflect those of beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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