3.3 The chicken meat industry in Australia - Trends
In 1963 Australians ate an average of 4.2kg of chicken a year. By 2010 that figure has increased tenfold, making chicken the most popular meat in Australia. This huge shift in consumption is due to a combination of supply and demand factors.
The industry’s adoption of the outcomes of research has changed chicken breeding, feeding and management practices, contributing to a better quality and more consistent product, as well as production and cost efficiencies. Changes in primary and further processing, particularly the level of automation of processing, has also contributed to the more cost-effective supply of a wider range of products.
These efficiencies and cost savings have driven down the price of chicken meat in current dollar value terms over the past 50 years. Increased demand has also been supported by consumer demand for greater convenience and variety and growing consumer awareness of the importance of a healthy, low fat diet.
Demand for free range chicken has grown significantly. Five years ago free range chicken could most accurately be described as a cottage industry. In a relatively short period of time it has grown to be around 15 per cent of the total market.
The primary reasons for purchasing chicken, as identified by consumers, include that chicken is: popular in the household, especially amongst children; versatile; healthy; and good value for money. This is based on the findings of an unpublished ACMF consumer survey conducted in 2010, backed up by the results of a survey undertaken by RIRDC (2009).
Based on recently released ABS (2011) statistics, ACMF estimates consumption of chicken meat in 2010–2011 to be 43.9kg per person and increasing.