An increasing number of consumers are becoming enamored with breaded chicken sandwiches, reports The NPD Group. Servings of breaded chicken sandwiches have grown an average of 3 percent over the last four years, and in the year ending July 2014, 2.4 billion breaded chicken sandwiches were ordered at U.S. restaurants and commercial foodservice outlets. As far as breading types, units of whole grain breaded chicken shipped from foodservice distributors to restaurants and other outlets increased by triple digits, finds NPD’s SupplyTrack.

Midscale-family dining restaurant customers showed their affection for breaded chicken sandwiches by ordering 4 percent more this year than last. Quick-service restaurants realized a 3 percent increase in servings in the year ending July 2014 versus last year, and independent restaurants grew servings by 2 percent. Non-commercial foodservice, like hospitals, school, and workplace cafeterias, served 5 percent more breaded chicken sandwiches in the period.

“Among the factors driving the increase in breaded chicken sandwich orders from a consumer standpoint is the perception of chicken, breaded or not, being a better-for-you option and the availability of new types of breading, like whole grain,” says Annie Roberts, vice president of NPD SupplyTrack. “On the operations end, chicken and chicken sandwich restaurant concepts have expanded units and more restaurants and non-commercial foodservice outlets, like schools and hospitals, are serving breaded chicken sandwiches.”