Rising commodity costs for beef mean that chicken will be big again in 2014, according to Technomic’s “10 Tre nds for 2014.” Two trends are shaping up to be big in the chicken business this year: chicken sandwiches for breakfast, and spicy chicken sandwiches and chicken wings.

Consumers are less likely to eat according to a three-square-meals schedule. They nosh, skip meals or eat breakfast for dinner, according to Technomic. More restaurants are introducing innovative breakfast items—like chicken breakfast sandwiches or super-spicy wraps with chipotle or Sriracha—often available all day. And while breakfast-and-lunch-only concepts are building a niche, other operators are promoting late-night breakfast menus, often in conjunction with 24-hour drive-thru service.

Just 20% of consumers told Technomic that they're eating breakfast away from home more often now than they were one year ago. In order to grab more share of stomach with breakfast fare, it's vital for foodservice operators to continue exploring new growth avenues.

Among consumers surveyed by Technomic in a recent breakfast study, 22% agreed that they would like foodservice operators to offer chicken-based proteins for breakfast.

Keep in mind, consumers link breakfast with health. According to the Technomic study, 63% of consumers feel it is unhealthy to skip breakfast, and open-ended Technomic data show that many consumers want more healthful breakfast options. Chicken plays well to the health trend.

And retailers are wise to watch the recent growth of chicken concepts in fast casual dining. Chicken-focused concepts on Technomic’s Top 150 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurants list saw U.S. systemwide sales climb a healthy 11.3% to more than $3.2 billion. The top fast-casual chicken chains still outperformed the overall limited-service chicken segment, which includes fast-food. And of the 12 chicken chains on this year’s Top 150 Fast Casual list, four saw sales gains greater than 15% in 2012.