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Proximity establishments and delivery (home delivery) as ways to reach Spanish families with a healthy product with an eminently social character.

The Interprofessional Association of Chicken Meat Poultry Farming / Propollo, which brings together more than 95% of the poultry sector in Spain, analyses how rotisserie chicken, a typical Spanish product, closely linked to the seasonal nature of the summer and the influx of international tourists, has adapted to the "new normal".

Spokesperson: Jordi Montfort, Secretary General of Propollo.

Context of the poultry and broiler chicken sector

  • Before COVID-19, around 46 million chickens were produced each month in Spain, with seasonality determining the type of product demanded in the market. 
  • During the summer months, the HORECA channel, to which 25% of the production is usually derived during the rest of the year, redistributes the products aimed at collectivities and restaurants (mainly consisting of carcasses, fillets and wings), to what is known as rotisserie chicken, typical of bars, restaurants with terraces, stalls at local festivals, or takeaway establishments, as well as the beach. Although demand is also increasing in the coastal distribution channel
  • The demand derived from tourism in coastal areas, where the arrival of foreign tourists was also noted , caused this figure to rise. In total, 52.8 million tourists arrived in Spain each summer, with an average consumption of 500 grams of chicken, which makes a total of 26.4 million kg ofchicken.  
  • About 35 million chickens (25% of production) were destined for the HORECA channel during the 3 summer months (more than 49 million kg).  

How COVID-19 has affected

  • After the first measures of confinement and the total closure of the HORECA channel were decreed in March, as well as the absolute paralysis of international and national tourism, the producers saw how that 25% of production aimed at this channel disappeared completely, although an important part was already planned for the months of April, May and June.
  • Producers (farms and integrators) have hardly had the opportunity to adapt their production to the real demand, as they need at least 3 months to do so due to the rearing cycles of the chickens. 
  • Therefore, part of the product was already on the farms, and part of this production has had to be kept cold (frozen), although there has been no support from the Administration for this concept, unlike other products such as sheep, goats, cattle or pigs. 

Rotisserie chicken: product typology & sector distribution

  • The rotisserie chicken corresponds to a specimen weighing approximately 1.4 kg. This chicken spends an average of 36 days on the farms before it reaches the market. 
  • The selling price in establishments is also a very important factor for consumers' purchase of the product. It is usually between €8 and €12, depending on the geographical area and type of preparation.
  • Some of the distributors specialised in the HORECA channel itself have had to adapt their production to other types of products, but this has already been done for the months of July-August-September.
  • The news of deconfinement and possible recovery of inland tourism has left little room for manoeuvre for producers to adapt the rearing of broiler chickens.
  • The most optimistic figures, subject to recent outbreaks and new containment measures, suggest a demand of around 7 million (20% of the usual 35 million).
  • But this is a fluctuating figure and is also subject to new news about the cancellation of international tourism, especially British tourism to the coasts.
  • And also because of chicken imports from surplus countries such as Italy and Poland, in addition to the usual ones from Brazil. It is estimated that 15% of chicken consumption in the HORECA channel comes from imports. 

The Spanish restaurant and hotel trade adapts to new habits 

  • Some of our partners, especially integrators, have already chosen to participate in previous years in catering projects with direct sales, which also made it easier to have ready-to-eat food outlets throughout the country.
  • This activity is in addition to the distribution of rotisserie chicken to catering chains, small shops, bars, beach establishments, hypermarkets selling ready meals, etc.   
  • All of these outlets have seen an important factor in the new normality being the delivery options, as well as the proposal of food for in-store pick-up on request, including ordering sometimes by phone and sometimes online.
  • Both restaurant chains and individual establishments opt for this type of service as a way of facilitating access to a prepared meal linked to family or leisure consumption at home.
  • We have detected that this option is also linked not only to coastal areas, but also to large cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. The delivery option allows consumers to have healthy food at home, as well as boosting the business of small neighbourhood shops.
  • For some shops in inland cities, this type of sales strategy and proximity to local customers has meant that the decline in sales may have been less than expected, below the national average .
  • An interesting option is also the prepared food areas of hypermarkets, such as El Corte Inglés, Mercadona or Eroski. Although their adaptation to the new normality remains to be seen.