4.2 From production to consumption - Production
The number of chickens slaughtered has increased steadily to meet increasing demand. This increase reflects the growing production and consumption of chicken meat in a period of relatively stable prices compared to other meats.
The percentage increase in chicken meat produced over the same period is even greater, due to market and product range changes that have fuelled demand for larger birds.
In the 1960s, whole birds represented the main product sold. Since then there has been strong growth in demand for chicken cuts and fillets, such as raw chicken breast fillets or chicken drumsticks, together with increased demand for further processed chicken products, which has led to demand for, on average, larger birds at the time of slaughter.
However, as the marketplace still requires a range of bird sizes, chicken meat processors process birds at different stages of growth depending on customers’ requirements for the size of the bird or chicken meat cuts.
The graph below shows how the average dressed weight of a chicken - that is, following slaughter, plucking, evisceration and cleaning - in Australia has changed, reaching over 1.8kg in 2010.