CHICAGO – As red meat costs climb, diners are craving more poultry variety on menus, according to Chicago-based market research firm Technomic Inc., which found that 55% of consumers want a wider selection of chicken dishes at restaurants and 40% want more turkey options.

Click here for an infographic, courtesy of Technomic Inc.

“Escalating prices for beef and pork are nudging more consumers toward poultry,” said Darren Tristano, vice-president of Technomic. “Operators and suppliers can leverage shifting expectations by exploring a wider range of versatility for chicken and poultry. These proteins are both highly adaptable to flavor innovation. Look for opportunities to promote more poultry for breakfast, appetizers and snacks.”

Breakfast entrees with chicken have increased 16% on Top 500 full-service restaurant menus since 2011, according to the research.

Leading flavors for chicken entrées include garlic, spicy, barbecue, teriyaki and lemon, according to Technomic. For turkey, the top tastes are cranberry, savory, barbecue, chipotle and orange.

Poultry described as “fresh,” “naturally raised,” “natural” or “organic” signify health to most consumers, and about half equate health with such attributes as “premium” or “local.”

The report found 89% of consumers eat chicken at least occasionally and 54% of consumers eat turkey at least occasionally, with 46% of turkey consumers agreeing that turkey is a suitable substitute in most chicken dishes.

Additionally, three out of 10 consumers said they would order chicken- and turkey-based alternatives for beef or pork at lunch and dinner.