Remember when chicken was a special treat, to be shared by the whole family on the occasional Sunday or only for a special celebration?
No? Then you are obviously a fair bit younger than me (most people are). So let me take you back half a century…
Prior to the mid-1960s, chicken meat primarily came from the processing of laying hens at the end of their productive life, or surplus cockerels from the egg industry. Improved breeds of chicken, specifically bred for the purpose of meat production, started to make an impact on the availability of chicken meat from that point, and this was when statistics started to be collected on chicken meat production and consumption for the first time.
Back then, Australians consumed approximately 5 kg per person a year. This represented a miniscule 5% of all meat eaten by Australians.
How things have changed!
On 6 March 2018, ABARES released updated statistics on Australia’s agricultural commodities, including forecasts for commodity production in 2017-18, and five year forward projections (http://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/publications/display?url=http://22.214.171.124/anrdl/DAFFService/display.php?fid=pb_agcomd9abcc20180306_6R2bY.xml) and just look at how we’ve grown!
In 2017-18 ABARES forecasts that Australians will consume approximately 49 kg per person. That’s a whopping 44% of all meat (excluding fish and seafood) consumed in Australia.
The graph below shows just how much our meat consumption habits have changed just in the past two decades.
And the rise of chicken meat won’t stop there. In another 5 years, chicken meat consumption is projected to have climbed to 51.5 kg per person per annum, eating into the share held by competitor meats and creeping inevitably towards ‘owning’ 50% of all meat consumed in Australia.
How has this been possible? Well, put it down to chicken’s unique combination of:
• Consistent quality
• Appeal to a broad demographic
• Nutritional value
• Affordability, made possible by the industry’s six decades of attention to improvements in productivity and efficiency, and adoption of improved genetics, better feeding and health programs, and improved husbandry practices.
And a little help from our friends who like to eat chicken! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIkPCt4ErUE