Chicken flies to new highs

Date: 28.06.2012

Forget red meat and three veg – it looks like chicken has taken over Australian dinner tables for the foreseeable future, with business information analysts at IBISWorld projecting a bright future for the popular poultry.

Chicken flies to new highs
Chicken has taken over Australian dinner tables for the foreseeable future

IBISWorld anticipates that the poultry processing industry's revenue will increase by 2.4 percent over the next five years to $7.48 billion as more Australians tuck into a hot roast chicken, rather than traditional roast lamb or beef, during the winter months. 

According to Karen Dobie, General Manager of IBISWorld, chicken is a win-win scenario for consumers. 

"Chicken is often favoured over red meats by health-conscious consumers for its lean qualities, and it's cheaper than red meat. It is also popular for its convenience credentials as it's relatively quick and easy to cook - something that appeals to increasingly time-poor households," she says. 

Australia currently produces 980 kilo-tonnes of domestic poultry, with exports accounting for just 3 percent of production. 

Consumption of chicken in Australia is around 43.8 kilograms per person, per year, surpassing beef and veal at 33.9 kilograms per person per year. 

"Australians are definitely eating more chicken. Since 2010, chicken has been our most favoured meat in terms of consumption and value - significantly outperforming beef and veal," Dobie says. 

This year, fresh poultry makes up 17.2 percent of the meat, fish and poultry retailing sector, contributing $1.96 billion of its revenue. This compares with 16.3 percent for the fresh beef and veal industry, which is worth $1.86 billion. 

Dobie adds that the trend towards organic and free-range chicken is providing the poultry processing sector with some room to innovate and grow as processors look for high-value niches and market opportunities. 

"There's a distinct trend towards providing consumers with ethical meat products. Free-range chicken now accounts for about 4 percent of all chicken produced, while organic chicken represents 2 percent of total chicken produced," she says. 

Dobie notes that even the supermarket giant Coles is responding to demand for ethical meat. Coles now provides sow-stall free pork, HGP-free beef and eggs and chicken with the RSPCA's seal of approval. 

In addition, Dobie points out as people have less time to spend in the kitchen, pre-prepared meals and prepared cuts are becoming first picks in the supermarket - and chicken is no exception - with many people opting for packaged chicken in the form of stir-fry, tenderloins or pre-seasoned cuts. 

Within the chicken farming and manufacturing sector, she says chicken farmers are taking on higher costs as they are being forced by poultry processors to invest in techniques to boost productivity to meet higher demand for their products. 

"The chicken farming and manufacturing industries are experiencing a period of increased consolidation as companies seek to vertically integrate and maximise economies of scale," Dobie adds. 


  • Fresh poultry: 17.2% share of revenue; $1.96b in sales revenue
  • Fresh beef and veal: 16.3% share of revenue; $1.86b in sales revenue
  • Fresh lamb: 9.4% share of revenue; $1.07b in sales revenue
  • Fresh pork: 5.9% share of revenue; $0.67b in sales revenue
  • Fresh seafood: 16.1% share of revenue; $1.84b in sales revenue
  • Processed and other meats: 35.1% share of revenue; $4b in sales revenue