It’s safe to say that Australian consumers love their chicken meat – as reported in my last blog (chicken meat eating up its competition) ABARES has forecast that Australians will have consumed a whopping 49 kg of chicken meat per person in 2017-18, making the average Aussie consumer one of the highest consumers of chicken meat in the world.
However, there is much talk of changing attitudes in the broader community about what we should eat and the way that our food is produced, and in order to keep a finger on the pulse of what the Australian public really thinks about Australian chicken meat and how it is produced, the ACMF periodically conducts surveys of consumer sentiments towards chicken meat and practices that may be (or in some cases, are not actually) used in producing chicken meat in Australia.
In this blog, I will share some of the findings from the most recent ‘ACMF Consumer Perceptions Study, 2018’ of 1,043 Australians 18 years and older.
Here is what we found:
1. Australians are eating chicken meat at least twice a week on average (actually, it’s 2.2 times a week on average). This is higher than for any other type of meat (1.6 times a week for beef, 1.0 times for pork, and 0.9 times for lamb). 62% of people said they eat chicken at least twice a week.
2. Only 4% of Australians say that they don’t eat chicken meat.
3. The vast majority (90%) of people recognise that chicken meat is a healthy food choice, and the most common reason given for this is its protein content. Of those who believed chicken to be a healthy food choice:
• 87% put this down at least in part to its protein content, and
• 54% because it’s low in fat.
4. Almost all Australians (90%) say it is important to them that their chicken meat is produced in Australia.
• The most common (81% of people) reason given for this is they believe we have better quality control and food safety standards in Australia than in other countries;
• 69% said the reason was it is ‘better quality and fresher’.
5. Misconceptions about the way meat chickens are housed and looked after in Australia still abound.
• When asked specifically about whether chickens raised specifically for meat production (as opposed to chickens that are raised to produce eggs) are kept in cages, only 4% of people correctly answered that none are kept in cages.
• Most (84%) believed that that at least half of our meat chickens are raised in cages.
• The truth is that no Australian meat chickens are grown in cages, as explained in earlier blogs such as this one: https://www.chicken.org.au/meat-chickens-and-cages/.
And what about old nugget – hormones being used in chicken production? Well, that myth is alive and well! 68% of people still believe that hormones are used, whereas the truth is that hormones haven’t been used in chicken meat production in Australia in more than 50 years (for the origins of this myth, see my earlier blog at https://www.chicken.org.au/the-hormone-myth/). But there is some evidence that understanding around this issue is at last improving however! For the first time, this recent survey demonstrated a small but significant shift in awareness around the issue of hormones, with less people (68%) prepared to accept this myth than ever before (typically 79-80% in previous surveys).
I’ll describe some other findings from the ‘ACMF Consumer Perceptions Study, 2018’ in later instalments. However, next month I’ll share with you what we discovered when we asked Australian kids what they know about chickens, how they think chickens are looked after, how chickens behave and if they like to eat chicken. I think you’ll enjoy their responses!