CHICAGO – Sales of turkey, duck and specialty poultry grew 6.5 percent in 2012, according to Mintel, a market and consumer trends research firm.

Sales of poultry products other than chicken grew to $7.1 billion in 2011-12, up from $6 billion in 2008, according to Mintel. Turkey was the biggest contributor to growth in this category. Additionally, more than eight in 10 Americans, or 84 percent, say they eat turkey; 94 percent of Americans eat chicken and 23 percent say they eat duck, goose and hen.

In 2012, the US poultry market had a value of $30 billion, with chicken parts accounting for 58 percent of the total poultry market. Sales of chicken parts grew 4.5 percent year on year. Meanwhile, whole chickens had sales of $5.5 billion in 2012, an increase of 0.6 percent over 2011, according to Mintel.

“The growth of other poultry products over 2011 and 2012 is partly attributed to the increasing popularity of Heritage turkeys, which are bigger, take longer to reach maturity, and sell for more than standard turkeys,” said John N. Frank, category manager for Mintel Food and Drink. “However, if other poultry products, like turkey, want to continue their impressive growth and not just be seen as the festive centerpiece, they will need to provide the level of innovation that is being seen in the chicken parts segment.

“As for the poultry market as a whole, it’s not surprising that chicken parts make up the majority of sales — they represent an attractive option for shoppers who want a convenient and healthy choice for quick dinners, while whole chickens take a substantial amount of time to prepare and culinary know-how,” he added.

Rising poultry consumption could impact the red meat market, with nearly four in 10 (38 percent) US consumers indicating that they have increased their poultry consumption in the last year. This trend peaked among younger adults, with 43 percent of those aged 18-24 eating more compared to 36 percent of the most senior consumers (aged 65+). Frank said that as obesity continues to be an issue, low-fat meal options such as white meat poultry should benefit from weight conscious consumers.

“Moreover, budget pressures continue to drive-eating at home over dining out, as preparing meals at home typically costs far less than-eating out and the relative affordability of poultry items makes them an ideal meal option for consumers preparing meals at home,” he said. “As for younger consumers, they are the most likely to have increased their poultry consumption in the last year, reflecting well on the market in that younger consumers are the least likely to possess cooking skills and therefore are likely finding value-added, ready-to-cook (seasoned, marinated) poultry products more convenient than ever.”