Going to Pieces

See how chicken food waste in the United States is used in other dishes around the world.

Illustration of how chicken waste is used in countries around the world

In the chicken business the whole (bird) is worth less than the sum of its parts.

About 90 percent of U.S.-raised broiler chickens—those destined for the plate rather than a life of egg laying—are cut up before they are sold.

The American appetite for white meat means very few of these birds' breast quarters are exported; palates elsewhere tend to find the meat bland. But the rest of the chicken may go all over the world.

Discovering international markets for parts few used to want has been crucial. Chicken-part exports (see maps) grew from 6 percent of production in 1990 to more than 20 percent today.

Find this month's story from the National Geographic Future of Food series at natgeofood.com.