Australian favour for chicken boosts production

09-03-2015 | | |
Australian favour for chicken boosts production
Australian favour for chicken boosts production

Chicken meat production is set to continue to grow and maintain its number one position as the most consumed meat in Australia, according to a recently released report.

The report Outlook Report for chicken meat to 2019-20 published by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), shows that chicken meat production is projected to continue to increase over the short to medium term and reach 1.32 million tonnes in 2019–20, compared with 1.08 million tonnes in 2013–14.

Chicken meat production to grow

Australian chicken meat production grew consistently over the decade to 2013–14, averaging nearly 5% growth a year. Production reached 1.08 million tonnes (carcass weight) in 2013–14. Chicken meat now accounts for nearly one-quarter of meat production in Australia, compared with 20% in the previous decade.

Growth in chicken meat production is forecast to continue over the short to medium term. In 2014-15 chicken meat production is forecast to rise by almost 4% to 1.125million tonnes and a further 3% in 2015–16 to 1.16 million tonnes. By 2019–20 Australian chicken meat production is projected to be around 1.32million tonnes, with its share of total Australian meat production increasing to 28%.

Domestic demand to increase

Projected growth in chicken meat production over the next five years is largely in response to an ongoing increase in domestic demand, as retail prices of chicken meat remain well below prices of alternative meats. The domestic market is projected to continue to account for around 96% of chicken meat production. Exports will comprise primarily low value cuts and offal, for which there is little domestic demand.

Australia ranks third-highest in the world in per person consumption of chicken meat, after Malaysia and Jamaica. Over the 10 years to 2013–14, growth in per person consumption of chicken meat in Australia averaged 3% per year.

Chicken meat is expected to remain Australia’s most consumed meat over the medium term. Australian chicken meat consumption is forecast to rise by nearly 2% in 2014–15 to 45.4 kilograms a person and by a further 2% in 2015–16 to 46.1kilograms a person. Over the medium term, consumption is projected to grow to 49.2 kilograms a person in 2019–20.

Chicken prices in Australia

Past and projected future growth in Australian chicken meat consumption reflects the competitive pricing of chicken meat compared with pork, beef and lamb. Over the past two decades, the prices of other meats have risen very strongly relative to chicken meat. Over the five years to 2014–15, chicken meat was on average 50% cheaper than pork, 59% cheaper than lamb and 65% cheaper than beef. Over the medium term, chicken meat is projected to remain much cheaper than these competing meats.

The comparatively low price of chicken mean reflects strong productivity growth achieved in the Australian industry over successive decades. Because of selective breeding techniques, chickens used for meat production reach their ideal slaughter weight in around 35 days, using a total of around 3.4 kilograms of feed. By comparison, 64 days and 4.7 kilograms of feed were required to bring a chicken To market weight in the 1970s.

Prices for chicken meat are comparatively low, and consumers are increasingly choosing fresh over frozen or processed chicken. According to the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, consumers are increasingly preferring to purchase chicken pieces, ready to cook. However, sales of whole chickens remain strong.

Exports to remain relatively small

Exports account for around 4% of Australian chicken meat production. About 95% of exports comprise frozen cuts and offal such as feet, kidneys And livers. These attract a higher price in export than domestic markets. The remaining 5% of exports largely comprises frozen whole chickens. Very little fresh chicken meat is exported.

Chicken meat exports are forecast to increase by 14% in 2014–15 to 40,500 tonnes (shipped weight) and a further 3% in 2015–16 to 41,600 tonnes. Forecast growth in domestic production will contribute to an increase in supply of frozen cuts and offal for export. Demand for these products in South-East Asia and the Pacific is expected to rise in the short term. Over the medium term, Australia’s chicken meat exports are projected to remain at around4% of production, increasing to 47,400 tonnes by 2019-20. Frozen cuts and offal are likely to make up most of Australia’s chicken meat exports over the projection period.

“Chicken represents good value”

Dr Andreas Dubs, Executive Director of the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, said that the report confirms the industry’s own assessment. “Consumers appreciate the good value that chicken represents but also appreciate the consistent quality, convenience, versatility and nutritional qualities of chicken meat”, Dr Dubs explained.

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