People are also willing to spend more on poultry featuring labels related to social responsibility and animal welfare, such as local sourcing, free-range birds, the humane treatment of animals and sustainability--but not to the same extent as poultry with health-halo labels. For example, less than one third of consumers (30%) say they would pay more for poultry products that are labeled as “sustainable.” From a consumer standpoint, poultry categorized as “humane,” for instance, is worth slightly less than poultry that is categorized as “steroid-free,” since fewer consumers are willing to spend more for the former. One could argue labels with health-halo attributes benefit consumers on a direct and personal level, whereas labels that have ties to social responsibility do not, which may explain the small percentage differences.

Poultry Chart

Beyond descriptors related to a natural food positioning, consumers are most open to
paying extra for attributes specifically relating to animal welfare. More than a third of consumers say they are willing to pay more for poultry that carries a free-range (37%) or humane (36%) descriptor.

Restaurant and grocery-store operators alike are responding to increasing consumer demand for poultry with a better-for-you or better-for-the-Earth positioning. On the foodservice side, 13-unit Agoura Hills, Calif.-based barbecue chain Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill, for instance, proudly states on its menu that all of the chicken it serves is “natural and hormone-free.” Nobu, a 12-unit, polished-casual concept based in New York City, offers an entrée featuring organic chicken with a choice of teriyaki, balsamic teriyaki, wasabi pepper or Peruvian anticucho sauce. On the retail side, Perdue’s grocery-store line of turkey features labels with a similar message. The company’s label for its turkey thighs, for example, states that the thighs are “all natural” and have “no hormones or steroids added.”

The data also shows the percentage of consumers who said they would be willing to pay slightly more (up to 5% more) for poultry products with each attribute was higher than the percentage of consumers who said they would be willing to pay significantly more (5% or more). This indicates there is still some degree of price sensitivity, when it comes to poultry prices, meaning prices can be raised for these products, as long as the increases are within reason.