CHICAGO – Rising meat prices are pushing consumers to trade beef for less expensive cuts of meat such as poultry. But consumers want to mix it up when it comes to poultry entrées they buy in restaurants, according to recent research from Chicago-based Technomic, a consumer trends firm.

"Escalating prices for beef and pork are nudging more consumers toward poultry," said Darren Tristano, vice president of Technomic. "Operators and suppliers can leverage shifting expectations by exploring a wider range of versatility for chicken and poultry. These proteins are both highly adaptable to flavor innovation; look for opportunities to promote more poultry for breakfast, appetizers and snacks."

In its Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trends Report, Technomic reports:

• Poultry is trending up for breakfast, snacks and appetizers. In particular, breakfast entrées featuring chicken climbed 16 percent on Top 500 full-service restaurant menus since 2011.
• In addition to breakfast, poultry is also a viable alternative to beef and pork for lunch and dinner. Three out of 10 consumers say they'd order chicken- and turkey-based substitutes for beef or pork on menus during these day-parts.
• Nearly half of turkey consumers (46 percent) agree that most chicken dishes would taste just as good made with turkey.

Technomic recently updated its Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trends Report to better reflect consumer behaviors, preferences and attitudes regarding chicken and poultry menu options.