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Chicken is changing the face of Britain’s food and beverage industry. According to analytics firm Kantar Worldpanel, smaller household sizes, changing schedules, and a turn away from traditional British “two meat and one veg” meals have allowed sales of fresh poultry and white meat to overtake those of red meat for the first time. As Kantar business unit director Nathan Ward told The Grocer magazine, “We’ve reached a tipping point in terms of what people eat for meals. This is favouring chicken.”
The growing popularity of white meat has substantially decreased the popularity of meats like lamb and pork, while beef—for the time being—remains readily available in ready-to-eat meals and fast food options. According to Kantar Worldpanel, red meat volumes fell by 0.9% over the last year, with Britons having consumed nearly 511 million kilograms of it.
Changing schedules and increasingly busy lifestyles are leaving consumers in Britain with less time to prepare complex meals, and are leading to an increase (some estimates say by more than 40%) in meals eaten alone. An increase in single-person and two-person households is also responsible for the declining popularity of many red meats. White meat is typically easier and less time-consuming to prepare than a Sunday roast, making it more appealing to busy and on-the-go consumers, and to those who are preparing meals for just one to two people rather than a large family. Poultry is also typically less expensive than beef, lamb, and pork. Britons ate almost 530 million kilograms of fresh poultry over the past year.
In addition to time- and cost-savings, swapping white meat in in place of red meat can positively affect the health of British consumers. A study by the BMJ found that consumption of white meat is less likely to lead to mortality from diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, and kidney and liver diseases. The study tracked half a million adults over a period of 16 years, and found that those who usually favoured white meat over red had a 25% lower risk of death from these conditions.
As Britain’s food and beverage industry continues to change, the meat industry is encouraging consumers to consider pork and lamb as mid-week meal options. However, the low costs and high versatility of white meat may continue to make chicken dinners the winners over the near future.
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