Poultry poised to take nearly half of the global meat market by 2031

Photo: Lucas
Photo: Lucas

Poultry will continue to be the fastest-growing meat over the next decade and by 2031 will take 47% of the meat market, according to the latest OECD/FAO Agricultural Outlook.

The long-term shift towards poultry will continue to strengthen, due in part to a preference for white meat among high income countries. This is because poultry is seen as easy to cook, healthier and perceived as a better choice. In middle and low-income countries, poultry is seen as a cheaper alternative to other meats.

As a result, it is predicted that protein availability from poultry will rise by 16% by 2031 and by then will constitute 47% of protein consumed from meat sources, followed by pork, sheep and cattle.

A general rise in poultry meat consumption

Poultry meat consumption has risen in virtually all countries and regions, with consumers attracted lower prices, product consistency and adaptability, and higher protein/lower fat content. Consumption of poultry meat is projected to increase globally to 154 million mt over the projection period, reflecting the significant role it plays in the national diets of several populous developing nations, such as China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Shift from foodservice to home cooking

In the shorter term, the shift in meat consumption from foodservice to home cooking that occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to be short-term and will revert to prior expenditure patterns as restrictions are lifted.

In high-income countries, however, where per capita consumption is already high, demand is anticipated to level off or trend lower given ageing populations and greater dietary concerns that seek more diversity in protein sources.

In lower-income nations, both population and income growth will spur overall consumption, albeit from a much lower per capita base level.

Global meat supply

Global meat supply will expand to meet rising demand, reaching 377 million mt by 2031, but this will be slower than in the last decade. Global herd and flock expansion will mean that China is projected to account for most of the increase in meat production, followed by the US, Brazil and India. In contrast, meat production in the European Union is expected to fall during the period due to increasing domestic and environmental costs and reduced export opportunities.

This increase in global meat production will be influenced mainly by growth in the poultry sector with poultry numbers rising to 31 billion head. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions by the meat sector are projected to rise by 9% by 2031 – less than the 15% increase in meat production given the rising share of poultry and productivity increases that yield higher production of meat per animal and thus a lower ratio of GHG emissions per unit of meat output. An important exception will be Africa where emissions will rise by 24%, largely in parallel with its rise in production.

Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist