Production is expected to exceed 1 million tonnes (t) this year, up from 667,471t in the year 2000. Consumption meanwhile, which averaged an annual 44.3kg per capita in 2010/11, is slated to reach 46.2kg per capita by 2015/16, according to Australian Poultry Industries Association (APIA) data. This will make it by far the most consumed meat in Australia, 12.3kg per capita more than beef and veal consumption, which is forecast to total 33.9 kg per capita in 2015/16.
APIA executive director Andreas Dubs told GlobalMeatNews that the increase in poultry consumption had a lot to do with lifestyle changes: "There is an ever-increasing offering of further processed meal options available in retail shops, a development that seems more pronounced in Australia than in Europe, for example, and caters for the new generation of time-poor home cooks looking for easy but tasty and nutritious options," he said.
Dubs added there had been a strong uptake of chicken-based products by quick-service restaurants outside the traditional chicken businesses. "We also note that chicken has become an almost compulsory inclusion on any restaurant menu," he said.
The ABARES report indicates price competitiveness as a driving factor in the rise of consumption, with low whole fresh chicken prices achieved thanks to increased productivity in Australian chicken farms, where birds (farmed without hormones and cages, according to the APIA) reach slaughter maturity at an earlier age, requiring significantly less feed than in previous decades.
Premium fresh and organic chicken cuts, however, can command top dollars. According to the online shopping facility of one of Australia’s biggest supermarket chains Coles, consulted on 19 March, chicken breasts from Australian organic producer Inglewood Farms was advertised at AU$31.40/kg (US$28.57) while Scotch fillet steak on the same site was advertised at AU$28.50/kg (US$25.93).
Exports, meanwhile, make up a tiny fraction of Australian chicken meat production – just 5% according to ABARES. "About 95% of exports comprise frozen cuts and offal, such as feet, kidneys and livers. These attract a higher price in export markets than in Australia," the report noted.