Announcement posted by Australian Chicken Meat Federation 31 Mar 2021
In new figures released by The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES, March 2021) the consumption of chicken meat by Australians is forecast to reach 46.4 kg per person in 2020-21, making Australian consumers amongst the highest consumers of chicken meat in the world.
Providing insights into why Australians’ love their chicken so much is new research which has determined that Australian consumers select chicken meat for its value, taste, nutrition and versatility.
The research, conducted by The University of Adelaide and funded by AgriFutures Australia, shows that more than two-thirds of Australian households serve chicken at least twice a week. This is despite the persistence of long held misperceptions about the conditions in which chickens are raised and the use of antibiotics and hormones. Despite these entrenched myths, chicken makes up nearly half of all meat consumed in Australia and per capita consumption is nearly double that of red meat.
Australian consumers are generally satisfied with the safety and eating quality of chicken meat, but what is of concern is that:
• 40 per cent of consumers incorrectly believe that hormones and steroids can be used.
• 12 per cent of survey respondents said that antibiotics are used to increase the growth rate of meat chickens. This is despite the introduction of an industry-wide policy 15 years ago of no use of antibiotics for growth promotion.
• 82 per cent of consumers surveyed incorrectly believe that meat chickens are raised in cages.
The Australian Chicken Meat Foundation Executive Director Dr Vivien Kite said that these beliefs are simply untrue.
“In Australia, meat chickens are not raised in cages and the use of hormones and steroids was banned decades ago,” she said.
“Our rigorous Australian standards restrict antibiotic use only to treat unwell chickens or prevent infections if there is a high risk of disease. Also, strict withholding periods exist to ensure that there are no antibiotics present at the time of processing.”
Dr Kite said that Australians should be confident enjoying their favourite protein knowing it’s good value, nutritious, versatile, and has the has the lowest environmental footprint of all meat.
- The gross value of production (farm gate value) of the chicken meat industry in 2020-21 will be approximately $2.89 billion (ABARES, 2021).
- In 2020-21, it is predicted that the average Australian will consume 46.4kg of chicken per year compared to 19.8kg of beef and veal and 5.5kg of sheep meat (ABARES, 2021).
- Chicken meat continues to be the dominant meat protein consumed by Australians, with over two-thirds of Australian households serving chicken meat at least twice per week (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Price, taste, health/nutrition, country of origin and food safety are the most important drivers of food choices for the average Australian grocery shopper (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Chicken meat continues to be the preferred protein for most Australian consumers because of its convenience, value for money and flavour (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- More consumers indicated increasing (37%) rather than decreasing (8%) their consumption of chicken meat (in the past 12 months). Price and ease of preparation are the main reasons for increasing consumption (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Price is the main purchase driver for the average Australian chicken meat shopper. However, consumers are paying more attention to on-package labelling information on chicken meat products (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Consumers generally have a poor understanding of chicken meat production practices in Australia – especially around ‘high-concern’ issues (including the use of steroids/hormones and of antibiotics, the sale of overseas-produced chicken in Australia) and the use of cages (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Just 17% of consumers (correctly) believe steroids/hormones cannot be used, but 40% believe they can be used (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- 59% of consumers are not sure if chickens produced overseas are sold in Australia (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Only 18% of consumers (correctly) believe meat chickens cannot be raised in cages, with 50% of consumers uncertain (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Despite the misperceptions, these issues tend to be ones which feature as major concerns for consumers. Overall, consumers’ main concerns about chicken meat production are similar to 2008. While use of steroids/hormones (not in fact practiced) and use of antibiotics in chicken meat production remain top concerns, country of origin is of equally high concern to consumers (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
About the Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF)
The Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF) is the national, peak organisation for those involved in the chicken meat industry in Australia, including chicken farmers and chicken meat processors. Its main aim is to represent the interests of the industry in a wide range of matters including animal health, biosecurity, food standards, food safety, international trade, quarantine, and animal welfare.
Follow ACMF on Twitter – @ACMFchicken
For more information, interview opportunities or images please contact:
Annabel Selby-Jones, Communications Manager ACMF
 Market insights for Australia’s chicken meat industry. Wendy J. Umberger and Lenka Malek, October 2020