The fast-food giants have been battling it out for a few years, but it appears that the chicken sandwich wars are far from over and will come to a head in 2023. Move over, burgers: Chicken sandwiches are a major ongoing trend that will continue to crop up on menus next year, according to a new forecast of culinary trends conducted by the National Restaurant Association.
Fried, barbecued, grilled…it doesn’t matter. More than 70% of respondents, who are thought leaders in the restaurant industry, agree: The chicken sandwich wars are still very much in play for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not only are they not going away, but the options may get spicier and more flavorful.
And we’re already seeing this play out in the fast-food industry, as new releases keep on coming like it’s 2020. Popeyes just released its new Blackened Chicken Sandwich; Burger King rolled out its Italian Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich (their version of a chicken parmesan); and Wendy’s launched its Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich.
At a time when inflation is pushing consumers to really examine their food selections, chicken is an obvious choice because it’s relatively inexpensive compared with other proteins. In May 2022, chicken hit a high of $3.50 per pound, but by October 2022, the prices fell to less than $1 per pound when chicken availability increased, according to WAATPoultry.com. The poultry site says that historically when Americans are in a depression, the chicken industry profits.
“The What’s Hot forecast for 2023 is an evolutionary reflection of both pandemic trends and current economic pressures,” says Hudson Riehle, the senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association. “Inflation is shifting consumer spending habits, and while there is a heightened appetite for restaurant experiences and connection, diners are laser-focused on finding value.”
Let’s just hope you’re not tired of chicken just yet.