1. Executive summary
Chicken meat touches the lives of most Australians on an almost daily basis, with 90 per cent of the population eating chicken meat at least once a week,and a third of us eating it three or more times a week.
Chicken has grown to become an important staple of the Australian diet, and is now Australians’ most significant source of meat protein. Chicken meat is widely recognised to be a low fat protein source and also provides essential vitamins and minerals, notably niacin, vitamin A, vitamin E and magnesium.
Its versatility and ease of handling and cooking has made it a popular menu item, whether cooked fresh at home or in a restaurant, eaten as takeaway from a quick service restaurant, or purchased as a partially prepared meal or snack to be cooked and served at home or in a wide variety of food service situations.
The chicken meat industry is substantial and growing, with a strong presence in many rural and regional communities, where it employs people in both agricultural and food processing environments. From production to processing, Australia’s chicken meat industry is wholly Australian-owned. With minimal international trade in chicken meat into or out of Australia, almost all chicken eaten in Australia, including all fresh and raw frozen chicken, is produced locally.
Forecasts uniformly predict continued steady growth in both production and domestic consumption of chicken meat.
The industry’s growth over the last fifty years has been supported by a strong commitment to research and a dynamic approach towards embracing the best new technology from all over the world and adapting it for the local circumstances. This has resulted in the adoption of superior genetics, improved bird nutrition and more effective management practices. Together, these have contributed to improved growth and bird performance and better feed conversion, boosting overall industry efficiency and productivity.
Participants in the chicken meat industry remain mindful of their responsibilities to the birds in their care, the environment in which they operate, and the consumers who place their trust in the food the industry provides. This is reflected in the industry’s involvement in a range of programs focusing on food safety, environmental sustainability, animal welfare and disease risk management.