The National Chicken Council (NCC), Washington, D.C., unveiled findings of its new nationwide survey about how deeply consumers understand sustainable food practices as it relates to broiler chicken production.

According to survey results, knowledge of the environmental impact of chicken among consumers is low. Only half of survey participants (51%) are moderately knowledgeable about chicken's impact on the environment, while three-quarters (71%) are moderately knowledgeable about how chicken is produced. While most are familiar with topics related to animal welfare and processing, knowledge related to sustainability topics in the industry like water usage (20%), greenhouse gas emissions (21%) and water impact (19%) is limited. 

When it comes to factors driving purchase decisions, the environmental impact of chicken (34%) is as important as animal welfare (37%). Of note, taste (82%) and price (65%) continue to be the Top 2 drivers of purchase decisions.

Bridging the gap between perception and reality

Misconceptions abound surrounding the effects of chicken production on key environmental issues like pollution, water quality and transportation. Consumers surveyed believe these issues have a high environmental cost, but their knowledge and understanding of these issues is low. 

  • Water issues are seen as having high environmental impact, but consumers are less knowledgeable about them.
  • Water impact/water contamination (74%) and water usage (69%) are seen as high environmental costs, but current knowledge on both is low at 34% and 36%, respectively.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions and shipping are seen as having moderate environmental impact, but most consumers also have significantly less knowledge than average about these practices for chicken production.

"As sustainability in agriculture continues to be a hot topic among U.S. shoppers, benchmarking perceptions and attitudes related to broiler chicken production and its impact on the environment is key to helping the industry better communicate with consumers," says Tom Super, spokesperson for NCC. "Based on what we hear, we can deliver accurate information to consumers and influencers in ways that will help them better understand industry-wide welfare and environmental standards that are core to the American-raised chicken they buy and eat."

About the survey

An online survey was fielded Jan. 14-23 of 1,000 general population Americans aged 18-64 years old who eat chicken (margin of error +/- 3.1%) and 500 Food eVangelists (margin of error +/-4.4%). Food eVangelists are defined as Americans who are particularly influential about food-related topics.