Will chicken sandwiches ever outshine the mighty burger? Probably not – but that doesn’t mean they aren't trying.
Servings of breaded chicken sandwiches have grown an average of 3 percent over the last four years, according to a report by research firm The NPD Group. The largest areas of growth: quick service restaurants, with a 3 percent increase in servings in the last year, midscale/family dining restaurants with a 4 percent increase and non-commercial foodservice (hospitals, schools, workplace cafeterias, etc.) with a 5 percent increase.
“Among the factors driving the increase in breaded chicken sandwich orders from a consumer standpoint is the perception of chicken, breaded or not, being a better-for-you option and the availability of new types of breading, like whole grain,” Annie Roberts, vice president of NPD SupplyTrack, said in a statement.
Various chicken menu items have also become more popular for restaurants as a money-saving tactic. While prices for beef and pork sky rocketed this year, chicken has remained a reliable, lower-cost meat that customers have embraced.
Does that mean that the chicken sandwich can take on the burger, the No. 1 sandwich in the restaurant biz? Not even close. In the year ending in July 2014, 2.4 billion breaded chicken sandwiches were ordered in U.S. restaurants. In the same period, 9 billion burgers were served, a 3 percent increase over last year.
Still, chicken is on the rise. In 2014, restaurants from Domino's and Pizza Hut to Burger King have beefed up their chicken game. It seems America is finally heeding the words of Chick-fil-A, one of this year's swiftly expanding and evolving fast-food standouts, and realized it is time to "eat mor chikin."