GLOBAL POULTRY TRENDS 2013: Asia Consumes 40 Per Cent of World's Chicken

With three of the world's four most populous countries included in Asia and growing demand for animal proteins, the region already consumes 40 per cent of global chicken production and intakes continue to grow, reports Terry Evans in his latest analysis of the poultry meat business.
calendar icon 18 September 2013
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Total poultry meat consumption expanded from 66.4 million tonnes back in 2000 to almost 91 million tonnes in 2009, while the estimate for 2013 is more than 106 million tonnes of which, almost 94 million tonnes will be chicken meat. In Asia, the increase in poultry uptake has been from 24.4 million tonnes to an estimated to 35.4 million tonnes in 2009 and a likely 42.5 million tonnes this year or 40 per cent of the world total.

Per-capita consumption data are the least reliable of the various series of figures on production, trade and consumption. This is because no country measures actual consumption per person, the figures being derived from estimates of the quantities available for consumption based on production and trade estimates, divided by an estimate of the human population. Hence any series of data is best used as a guide to trends (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Poultry meat consumption in Asia compared to the global average (kg/person/year)

Asia has 60 per cent of the world’s population (Table 1). Currently, China and India combined account for 37 per cent of the total. However, China’s population growth rate is forecast to fall from the one per cent a year achieved in the period 1991–2000 to only 0.3 per cent a year over the period 2013 to 2020. As a result, China’s share of the global total will actually decline from 19.5 per cent to 18.5 per cent.

In contrast, although population growth will also decline in India, the estimate for this country for the period 2013 to 2020 is still as high as 1.2 per cent. Hence, India’s share of the global total will increase to more than 18 per cent. Indeed, by 2023, it is calculated that the population of India will have overtaken that of China.

For individual countries, any future increase in chicken consumption will depend on the relationship between supply and demand which, for supply will greatly depend on a reduction in feed costs while, for demand, poultry prices must maintain their competitive position against other meats.

Demand is also affected by the global economic environment. In broad terms, this has been poor since 2008/09. Global growth is calculated to have dropped by almost three per cent in 2012 and the general picture for 2013 can be described as weak although forecasts for advanced economies show a marginal improvement. However, a significant slow-down is anticipated in what are considered to be less mature economies with, in particular, significant growth cut-backs anticipated for both China and India.

Nevertheless the prospects for poultry are more positive although future growth is expected to be slower than in the past decade. The outlook for many Asian countries is optimistic as industries continuing to make efficiency gains.

The FAO’s assessment of the worldwide average poultry meat consumption for 2009 - the most recently published figures - was 13.6kg per person, of which around 12kg would have been chicken meat. Based on current trends, Dr Paul Aho of Poultry Perspectives considers that chicken consumption will grow faster than its meat competitors and eventually may surpass pork (15kg) although he suggests that this might take another 20 years.

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Clearly, developments in Asia are greatly influence by what happens in China. As a result of avian influenza H7N9 outbreaks, live-bird markets were closed earlier this year with a dramatic negative impact on demand, which depressed prices. Consumer demand was also weakened as a result of media reports of chemical residues being found in broiler products served in fast-food operations.

A market slump has badly hit all sectors of the industry. Nevertheless, according to a Rabobank report, 'Poultry has great growth potential thanks to changing food preferences and a growing demand from the ever-increasing quick-service restaurants, and the emerging frozen/processed food sectors'. Also, strong future growth potential is offered by a growing acceptance of poultry among the younger generation..

A comparison of the estimates for 2000 with 2009 (Table 1/10) gives a good indication of how poultry meat consumption has expanded in most countries in the region. Although the data are expressed to decimal parts per kg, it is not possible to be this certain about consumption levels and small differences from year to year may not be meaningful.

The slow growth in per person uptake in India in recent years is primarily because of the increase in the human population. While rising purchasing power, changing eating habits and increasing urbanisation is likely to sustain continued growth in demand and consumption, the current lower overall economic well-being forecasts for this country may dampen growth somewhat.

Uptake per person in India is 2013 is considered to be in the region of 2.8kg. The transition from a predominantly live bird/wet market to a chilled/frozen trade is considered essential for future expansion. Hence, the development of a more efficient distribution system with investment in cold-chain infrastructure as the acceptability of frozen chicken rises, is considered to be a major driver to long-term growth.

With almost 250 million people, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country. Although the average quantity of poultry meat eaten is low at just 6kg per person in 2009, it is anticipated that an expanding middle class will contribute significantly to a doubling of consumption in the next decade.

Even in 2009, poultry consumption in Saudi Arabia was already among the highest in the world averaging 42kg per person. According to a USDA report, it has been growing steadily at an average rate of five per cent a year over the past two decades. Furthermore, demand is expected to continue growing in the near term because chicken meat is the most competitive animal protein source and there is a growing preference for broilers by increasingly diet-conscious consumers.

As a result of a case of H7N9 avian influenza in a man on the island, Taiwan authorities imposed a ban on the slaughter of live poultry in the traditional wet markets in May 2013. However, the demand for these birds has been in decline as the popularity of eating outside the home has increased and consumer habits have moved more in the direction of larger western-style grocery outlets. Nevertheless, in the short term, a significant percentage of consumers have reduced their consumption of poultry.

Throughout the region continued per-capita consumption growth will stem from changing attitudes to food, particularly among the growing middle classes.

Further Reading

Go to our previous article in this series by clicking here.

September 2013

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