The recession may have put a damper on foodservice sales, as well as those for premium foods like organic products, but more cost-effective and value-based proteins are doing well. According to the Nielsen Company, which follows trends, pork and turkey increased 3 percent in volume in February compared with the previous 12 months. Chicken increased by 4 percent for that same period. Beef sales, however, remained flat; and seafood dropped about 6 percent.

In terms of specific product,  chicken breasts had the strongest sales, increasing 5 percent over the previous 12 months.

While those numbers reflect patterns of retail sales earlier this year, much has changed since then. Poultry producers are cutting back on egg sets for broilers in an attempt to push prices up to more profitable levels. Also, the Type A H1N1 influenza scare may have dampened pork demand this spring due to inaccurate perceptions.

But the economy hasn't improved and consumers continue to adjust their buying habits, which includes less entertainment and more at-home meals.