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Popularity of chicken continues to rise

Growth in chicken consumption in Australia over the last 20 years has increased significantly while red meat consumption continues to decline.

In 2020 Australians consumed around 43.79 kilos of poultry on average per year and by 2029 it is expected that poultry consumption will show year-on-year increases to reach 45.23kg.

And according to industry analysts poultry is the dominating choice and is now 50 per cent of all meat per capita eaten by Australia.

So in today’s consumer market, how does a chicken thigh rate to a lamb cutlet?

The popularity of chicken meat was broadly thanks to it’s ease of cooking, low-cost and surprisingly its blandness that allows taste adaptation, head of ANZ agribusiness insights Michael Whitehead said.

“White animal protein has given sheep and cattle and to a lesser extent pork a run for their money,” Mr Whitehead said.

“Poultry has, over the decades, become the dominant meat consumed by Australians and many parts of the world.

“The growth has been phenomenal to the point where it is now 50pc of all meat per capita eaten by Australians.

“Because it’s an entirely domestically produced meat with variable export as well, that supply has gone up at the same time.”

Chicken meat production has more than doubled in the last 20 years, going from 600,000 tonnes to 1.25 million tonnes and the growth of the industry is insatiable.

It’s now tagged the low-cost animal protein and going forward, because chicken is produced in such a controlled environment production system experts say there is more room for continuing innovation, technology and efficiency.

And that is good news for consumers as it will keep a lid on chicken meat prices in retail shelves.

“Those improvements continue to happen,” Mr Whitehead said.

“One of them is in terms of the genetics of the birds. In the last 20 years we have seen the yields of the chickens increase dramatically from about 1.5 kilos to almost 2kg of meat per bird.”

“And of all of the meat animals – chicken, pig, sheep and cows – chickens have the best utilisation of feed.

“A lot of the major animal feed companies continue to see room for improvement in terms of the quantity of feed and also the cost of feed as well – trying to get the most out of it.

“And how that is reflected as well is on the cost side. The inputs for other meats have gone up, which has made them more and more expensive.”

He said the cost of chicken over the last 20 years has been even less than half of the Consumer Price Index (CPI ) price rise, making it cost less to produce and buy.

And as far as choice goes, analytical studies show it’s not just the low cost of chicken that is attractive, but the ease of preparation and cooking.

“Nobody asks when you are cooking chicken if you want rare, medium or well-done, it’s easy to cook and it’s easy to buy cooked as well,” Mr Whitehead said.

“But interestingly, people are buying more chicken simply because its lack of flavour – it is bland.

“The fact that it has less flavour than sheep, beef or fish means consumers are able to adapt it more.

“It has all these reasons why people are choosing it more over the beef, lamb and other meats.”

Popularity of chicken continues to rise

Head of ANZ agribusiness insights Michael Whitehead.

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