2. Global context
Meat forms an important part of the diet for most people around the world.
Twenty years ago the global demand for meat was 173 million tonnes, of which poultry made up 23 per cent. Today the annual global demand for meat sits at 285 million tonnes, with poultry now comprising 35 per cent or 100 million tonnes of this (Rabobank, 2011).
Australia’s demand for chicken meat mirrors this global trend. In the last 20 years, Australia’s production of chicken meat has increased by over 160 per cent, with Australians now eating more chicken than any other kind of meat.
This growth has in part been driven by productivity gains that have allowed chicken meat to become the best value meat option. Chicken sales have also benefited from favourable consumer attitudes towards the product, in particular its versatility, consistency, popularity across the family and increasingly recognised contribution to a healthy diet.
Looking to the future, global food production needs to increase by more than 40 per cent by 2030 and 70 per cent by 2050 to meet the needs of an ever increasing global population (OECD-FAO, 2009).
The global demand for meat is estimated to increase by 44 per cent to over 400 million tonnes by 2030 to support the world’s growing population and its increased appetite for meat. Poultry’s growth rate is expected to be the highest at 60 per cent, with poultry forecast to make up 39 per cent of worldwide meat demand by 2030 and become the most consumed meat globally (Rabobank, 2011).
Whilst there are several reasons for this strong growth forecast, possibly the most significant is poultry’s efficient use of inputs including feed.
In Australia, many alternative agricultural pursuits are highly vulnerable to the biophysical impacts of climate change, such as water scarcity (Garnaut, 2008). Chicken production is less vulnerable to these impacts. This, combined with the Australian chicken meat industry’s productivity gains and value for money for the consumer, is expected to result in demand for chicken remaining strong.