With growing concern about greenhouse gases and an increasing worldwide population to feed, food is a hot topic of discussion. Food production industries are under more pressure to comply with various regulations and still meet an ever growing demand. The chicken processing industry faces these pressures, as well as the added pressure of making sure that the product they provide is safe for consumers.
While articles have talked about the viability of insects and other odd protein as a way to solve many of these problems, chicken remains a viable solution for a high protein, clean, and environmentally-stable solution. Larger animals take an exceptional amount of time, feed, and resources to produce a final product that is ready for consumers. Chickens take up less space, can quickly make it to maturity, and turn out substantially less greenhouse gases than either cows or pigs. According to The New York Times, “Pigs and chickens, which convert grain to meat far more efficiently than beef, are increasingly the meats of choice for producers, accounting for 70 percent of total meat production.”
With the increase in chicken and pork production, processors have to keep up. Chicken processing is more intensive than it was even 50 years ago. Instead of providing solely whole chickens to supermarkets and restaurants, consumers want more meticulously processed chicken cuts. This includes features, like being skinless, boneless, or cut-out pieces, that match their wants versus having to process a whole chicken. This comes from decades of Americans thinking that chicken breasts are the healthiest part of the chicken, whereas there is very little nutritional difference between white and dark meat. Either way, Americans live fast-paced lives, and having chicken processed in specific ways for them first, provides added convenience.
From initial processing to consumer final product, processed chicken does provide many benefits in the food industry. In 30 days, specifically bred chickens can provide a large quantity of meat for a variety of uses. Free-range chickens or factory farmed chickens all take up little space and produce little in the way of excrement and methane. There is nothing that can’t be used in some way when it comes to the chicken, which is why the industry continues to grow.
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