Chicken consumption rising

13 May, 2013 02:00 AM

AUSTRALIA'S increasing taste for chicken has lifted total consumption of the white poultry meat to just exceed both traditional red meat staples, beef and lamb, combined.

While annual national veal, beef and sheepmeat consumption figures now hover around 34 and 9.5 kilograms a head respectively, Australians are eating almost 45kg/head of chicken - up nearly 1 per cent in the past 18 months.

During the next five years chicken consumption is tipped to keep rising to around 47kg/capita a year according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Pigmeat consumption has also increased by about 2pc annually in the past decade to about 24kg/capita in 2011-12.

But unlike the chicken meat sector, which is virtually all home-grown, much of the extra pork, ham and bacon eaten has been imported, with 152,000 tonnes - about half total consumption - expected to be imported this year.

The Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF) estimated consumer spending on fresh, frozen and cooked chicken products now exceeded $5.6 billion.

Chicken meat's low retail price, ease of preparation and its popularity as a value added semi-prepared meal offering in supermarkets, specialty retailers and butcher shops have continued to promote increasing consumer loyalty.

"There's been a little more marketing activity lately, particularly since Baiada Poultry took over Bartter and the Steggles brand, but in general consumption growth is driven by the consumer's hip pocket," said ACMF executive director, Andreas Dubs.

He said competitive pricing also appeared to be behind the white meat gaining more prominence on menus across quick service food sector.

While retail chicken meat values rose slightly in response to higher grain prices encountered by producers in the past year, price growth was still below consumer price index rises.

Higher grain and energy costs had chewed into production and processing margins, but the improving weight gains, bird mortality rates and integrated production efficiencies achieved by the industry were continuing to keep the meat highly competitive.

ABARES price index of meat values puts chicken about 50pc cheaper than pork and beef and 150pc below lamb for 2012-13.

In the past 20 years average meat yields across the industry have gained bout 1pc annually to now stand at almost two kilograms/bird.

With local chicken meat production averaging about 4pc annual growth, Australia is set to produce almost 1.1m tonnes in the coming financial year.

Dr Dubs said about 31pc of that meat was destined to be turned into crumbed chicken nuggets, frozen meals or other pre-prepared products which had gained considerable appeal with consumers in the past decade.

Supermarkets represented the largest distribution channel (40pc) for the remaining fresh or frozen chicken meat cuts or whole bodies, followed by wholesalers (19pc), fast food chains (13pc) and the food service and hospitality sector (8pc).

Pet foods accounted for 6pc of the chicken meat market - quit a bit more than butchers sold.

National Australia Bank's (NAB) agribusiness, general manager Khan Horne said as a major buyer of more than five per cent of Australia's total grain crop, the chicken meat industry had been able to respond to rising grain prices and continuing strong demand by achieving a lift in local meat prices up above historical trends.

But the past year's price trend was likely to unwind slightly as global corn and soybean production and prices returned to normal.

"In real terms, chicken meat is still cheaper now than a decade ago, and the industry's productivity gains are set to continue into the medium term," Mr Horne said.

He said chicken's export growth was also expected to resume in 2013-14, but exports only accounted for 3pc of total production volume.

The pork industry had also been impacted by rising feed costs, but retail prices had stayed relatively flat.

Mr Horne said although pig producers were also being weighed down by the expense of meeting requirements to phase out sow stalls the high degree of structural consolidation seen in the past decade was stabilising and local production was back to near levels seen 15 years ago.

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Chicken Little of Vic
13/05/2013 8:53:37 AM

As it gets bigger this industry accrues more political clout which it uses to stifle opposition to the expansion of its industrial base over unsuitable sites. Neighbors, including traditional land based activities like dairying find themselves impinged by the exclusion zones surrounding these facilities that prevent neighbors from undertaking legitimate activites on their own land! 60% of our land lies under a neighbor's buffer and we cannot build or run certain animal types in this area on our on property without facing legal action to prevent us. And we won't talk about the odour. Check it out.
13/05/2013 10:52:21 AM

No surprise! "integrated production efficiencies" here in Victoria means doubling the throughput capacity of processing plant with a very generous taxpayer contribution. It also means chicken growers selecting a site too small to contain their planned broiler sheds and then taking away neighbours' rights on up to 50% of any adjoining property. It also means manipulating outcomes of supposedly consultative processes to give the broiler industry the advantages of decreased costs of transport - by enabling further expansion in totally inappropriate areas such as the Westernport Catchment.
13/05/2013 11:38:29 AM

Chicken is a favourite meal of ours. But which brands are from non-GM fed chickens? Is GM canola grown here finding its way into your chicken feed? Independent scientific research concludes that there ARE differences between GM-fed chickens and those on non-GM feed, opposite to industry claims of no difference. ting/1-news-items/11841-are-anima ls-fed-gm-feed-different
Travelling Wilberry
13/05/2013 12:32:09 PM

Hi Alice, I think if you want to continue to eat non GM feed meat, you will ned to buy smaller clothes! pretty sure that GM is here to stay so better get used to it. Have you looked into what GM actually is and how it makes a difference?
David Harrison
13/05/2013 2:42:20 PM

Travelling Wilberry, why should I have to get used to something that I do not wish to consume? Where is my right to freedom of choice? I do not want GM food. I am in the position where I grow my own poultry and beef. In this way I know where my food comes from. Others are not so fortunate. So why should that choice be denied them? Do not tell me to get used to it! I do not want it, and that is MY choice. Not yours or the companies flogging off their GM product!
Travelling Wilberry
13/05/2013 2:58:52 PM

Hi David, there is plenty of things I don’t want to get used to too, where my freedom of choice is being stifled. Unfortunately as the world population grows and arable land becomes less, we need to be more productive and efficient with what we produce. At times, GM may be the only viable option available to feed the population. I am envious of your fortunate position to be able to grow your own poultry and meat, however not everyone is in that position and therefore may have to accept the inevitability of GM somewhere in the food chain.
13/05/2013 3:34:36 PM

Chickens have the best feed conversion ratio (use the least grain to develop meat mass) and are the most efficient in terms of land. Its the cheapest priced meat and is the fastest growing. Yes, the feed may and probably does contain GM materials, but Travelling Wilberry is right, there is limited supply available of non GM feeds and as its hard to source, its hard to avoid. Its easy to criticise the industry, but they employ a lot of Aussie farmers and provide a quality Australian product from an industry that is overseen by government standards. Its a positive for Australian farming.
14/05/2013 2:25:43 AM

Traveling Willberry, have you looked into GM and the consequences of feeding to livestock and then human health issues? World wide we are seeing reports of animal health issues associated with GM feed. I think we are seeing only the tip of the iceberg, due to the power of GM companies to keep bad news suppressed. From large losses to serious fertility problems. The US is a point in case, most of their animals eat GM products. And Elizabeth, what is being fed to your chicken? They must be on a high ration of canola or imported soybean because they are supposedly the only GM products.
22/05/2013 6:59:30 PM

After reading all of the above comments, especially those of Travelling Willberries, I have become greatly disheartened that the idea of minimising meat, or in this case poultry, consumption has not grown into mind. If you're going to complain about unknown, unsafe or un-natural products and modifications being applied to your food (may I add, animals are not even food to begin with) then perhaps you should become more active about reducing your meat intake to reduce the cause of GM occurrence, or even better, eliminate yourself from the entire situation of meat consumption.


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