In the 1950s, chicken was seen as an elite food and was expensive.
These days chicken meat is consumed more than any other meat in Australia, with the average Australian consuming it 2.2 times per week, which exceeds the consumption of beef and pork combined.
According to the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, over the last 20 years, the annual per capita consumption of chicken has surged by nearly 80%, from 28 kg per person in 1997 to nearly 50 kg per person in 2017, while the consumption of other popular meats has generally declined per capita.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics expects this trend to continue going forward, with chicken consumption per capita expected to rise 5% by 2023, while beef and veal consumption is expected to drop 8% and sheep consumption is forecast to drop a further 6%.
The growth in chicken consumption is due to multiple factors:
- Chicken is increasingly seen as a healthy food choice, being relatively high in protein and low in fat
- Chicken is much cheaper than other meats in Australia. In 2017 the average retail price was $5.30/kg, while beef and veal was $19.30/kg, lamb was $14.80/kg and pork was $11.90/kg
- There have been significant increases in the efficiency of chicken meat production over time. As a result, the Australian retail price inflation of chicken meat has been very low compared to other meats. In the period from 1997 – 2017, the retail price of beef, veal and sheep rose between 3.4% – 4.2% per annum, while the retail price of chicken meat rose only 0.4% per annum
Poultry farms should be expected to generate reasonably consistent and stable earnings irrespective of how the economy performs. The investment to Poultry farms could be considered a ‘safe investment’, as the demand for chicken meat would be unlikely to soften significantly in a declining economy. In fact, due to its cost advantages relative to other meats, the demand for chicken could actually increase during an economic slowdown.