GLOBAL POULTRY TRENDS - Chicken Meat Consumption Trends in the Americas

On average, poultry meat consumption is well above the global mean, writes Terry Evans in the last of this special series on the industry in the Americas for ThePoultrySite.
calendar icon 28 July 2010
clock icon 5 minute read

Few countries attempt to measure chicken meat consumption per person, the published figures generally being estimates of the supply available for consumption divided by the estimate of the human population. Clearly, with such a degree of estimation, the calculated figures can be little more than a guide to the likely amounts eaten per person, though they can still be a good indication of the trend when viewed over a period of time. Data can often vary significantly depending on the source. For example the USDA's estimates broiler consumption in Mexico at between 28 and 30kg per person but, according to the Mexican National Poultry Union (UNA) consumption averages around 26kg per person. But, it is the trend that is the important guide to future developments.

A further distortion of the data arises in those countries where the indigenous population numbers are swollen significantly through tourists, and as a result, the apparent quantities of poultry eaten by the local people are inflated.

For a relatively small number of countries, estimates are available for the current year of the quantities of broiler meat consumed. But, when looking for data for every country in the world, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) releases the only official figures. These are based on the estimated utilisation of poultry meat per person, which comprises all forms of meat chicken, culled layers, turkeys and other fowl. Sadly, the most recent figures are for 2007 (see table 1) although, in the accompanying chart, we have made forecasts for 2010 for the world average and the two major regions of the Americas.

Changes in real incomes affect the quantities of livestock products purchased. Particularly in the developing countries, the richer people become, the more meat they eat. But the converse is also true hence, during the economic recession, the uptake of poultry per person declined in many countries. The other key factor here is the level of supply, as in a situation of declining profit, producers tend to cut back output which, in turn, will usually be reflected in a lower level of uptake, though on occasions the reduction in output can be offset by increased imports.

From the limited data on chicken consumption for 2009 (table 1), it is not surprising to find that the per person uptake declined in that year. However, it is currently considered to be recovering.

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The human population of the Americas is currently assessed at 940.3 million with a 2050 projection of 1177.7 million – an increase of 237.4 million or 25 per cent. At present, 393.2 million live in South America and 351.7 million in Northern America (which comprises Bermuda, Canada, Saint Pierre/Miquelon and the USA), these two accounting for almost 80 per cent of the total for the Americas. By 2050, the population of South America will have risen to almost 483 million while for Northern America the corresponding figure will be almost 450 million.

As the accompanying chart indicates, average poultry meat consumption per person in North America is about four times larger than the world average, whereas uptake in South America is around two and a half times bigger.

Global /World Poultry Statistics
Figure 1. Poultry meat supply in northern and South America compared to the world average

There is clearly the prospect of further increases in the average uptake of poultry in South America, which when aligned with the likely population increase, points to a large rise in total chicken consumption.

However, there is some concern in the USA, which accounts for 71 per cent of the human population of North America that, after decades of growth, per-person meat consumption began to level off after 2004 and to decline after 2007. And, although a rise in the quantity of chicken eaten per person is forecast for this year at 43.3kg, this still lags behind what was achieved in the years 2005 to 2007 when the average exceeded 45kg. Aware of the likely slowing in the growth of demand in the US, it is not surprising to see several of the largest broiler companies establishing poultry operations in other countries in the Americas and around the world.

Further Reading

- You can view other articles in our series Global Poultry Trends by clicking here.

July 2010
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