Chicken Nugget Insights: New Research Shows What Consumers Want

chicken nuggets

As foodservice and retail brands turn their attention to the chicken nugget, our research shows exactly what consumers are looking for in the popular poultry product

KerryDigest Fast Facts:

  • Chicken nuggets have long been a consumer favourite, and pandemic-induced lockdowns increased their popularity.
  • New research shows the qualities European consumers expect from chicken nuggets.
  • We highlight regional and localised insights, including the relationship between taste and satisfaction.

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KerryDigest Full Scoop:

The bite-size, ready-to-eat chicken nugget has long been a strong performer, and its popularity only grew during the pandemic, as consumers expressed a need for comforting and familiar food options. To help new and existing chicken nugget products beat consumer expectations, Kerry and ISI Marketing Research collected new and timely data that allows us to identify the drivers of preference in key European markets. Below are examples of some of our findings—for a more thorough overview, contact us.

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Consumers prioritise chicken flavour and nugget format

Previous research, carried out by Kerry in conjunction with Opinions, found that taste is the single most important attribute sought by European chicken nugget consumers, ahead of meat quality, texture, price and clean label. This aligns with industry-wide research, which suggest taste continues to be a primary purchase driver.

Nuggets are already the most popular format for coated products amongst European consumers, according to research from our foodservice division. The coatings market is upwardly mobile, with a current worth in the region of EU€23.7 billion and chicken nugget-style food products accounting for 20% of overall volume market share.

New research suggests appeal of multisensorial experience

The latest chicken nugget research from Kerry, in partnership with ISI Sensory Marketing Research, is drawn from a comprehensive sample of consumers across five key European markets: France, UK, Germany, Poland and Spain. In addition to gleaning insights from consumers directly on a range of traditional breaded and tempura nuggets—including best sellers as well as those of interest in each market—an expert sensory panel analysed the chicken nuggets to gather a deeper understanding of the nuances and differences between products in terms of taste, flavour, texture and mouthfeel.

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The findings add up to a full picture of consumer preference drivers when it comes to chicken nuggets, which can help manufacturers create chicken nugget products that are truly consumer- and market-led. For instance, in some markets the nuggets with the greatest chicken flavour performed best, while in others texture was more important to consumers.

“There were particular commonalities across the countries surveyed”, says Kate Bailey, Principal Sensory and Consumer Scientist at Kerry. “Almost all the respondents, regardless of nationality, expressed need for a certain intensity of chicken flavour, and more golden colour.”

Creating products for localised markets

Our research found that other preferences were more localised, such as nugget size and shape.

“In France, the best performing brands were whole muscle chicken rather than formed, in slightly different sizes, looking more handmade in appearance”, says Bailey. “Our expert sensory panel carried out an objective assessment and confirmed characteristics that were associated with the most-liked products. This neutral and objective analysis is of real value when we link back to the consumer data and identify why French consumers feel the way they do about the top performing product”.

The data provides clear guidance on how brands can improve chicken nugget appeal, including incorporating findings from individual regions.

“Overall, what we’ve learned from this research is you can’t compromise on the flavour involved in a nugget product”, says Bailey. “It also showed us there is a real opportunity for mediocre performers to improve and perform a lot better, and that the achievement of a better chicken taste is an essential part of improving the performance of existing products and optimising new products.”

For brands unsure of how to proceed, working with a partner with unrivalled expertise and proprietary technologies in authentic savoury taste can ensure products match consumer expectations. Contact your account manager for more details on this proprietary consumer and product research from Kerry, or contact us.

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