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Dark Meat Lovers, Rejoice: Chicken Legs, Thighs Becoming Hip

10 June 2012 in Trading Ideas

It seems consumers have reached saturation with the healthy but boring chicken breast.

Indeed, the lack of saturation may be part of the problem.

As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, demand for chicken legs and thighs has grown in recent years as people have begun flocking to the bird’s tastier parts. Not only have consumers been turned on to the meat by celebrity chefs touting the richer flavor and softer texture, sales have been booming from growing exports to foreign markets that favor chicken on the bone, and from the growing immigrant population in the U.S., according to the Journal.

Theo Weening, a global meat buyer for Whole Foods Market (WFMI) told the Journal: “In the past, it was always a struggle to get rid of the thigh meat.”

Restaurants, too, have gotten into the act. Take Chipotle (CMG), for example. The fast-but-healthy food purveyor, which the Journal says uses mostly dark meat in its menu, has continued its rapid growth.

As for chicken producers, the rush is on to meet the demand. Top producer Tyson Foods (TSN) told the Journal it’s developing more dark-meat products and intends to ramp up production by increasing its purchasing from outside suppliers.

Does this trend in poultry preferences change how you think about the investment opportunity in restaurants or food production?