Chicken meat most popular meat in Australian diet, new trends for other meats

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 12th June 2013

Chicken meat has maintained its place as Australia’s most popular meat, ahead of all red meats, and its popularity is expected to continue, according to a recent report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

ABARES found that Australians ate more chicken meat in 2012-13 than the combined total of beef and lamb. In 2012-13, Australians ate an average of 44.6 kg of chicken meat per person, compared to 32.8 kg of beef and 9.5 kg of lamb.

Chicken consumption to grow

Chicken consumption has risen almost 1 per cent in the last year, and is expected to continue to maintain its place as the most popular meat in the next few years. ABARES estimates that chicken meat consumption in Australia will continue to rise, reaching 47kg per person by 2017-18.

According to ABARES, the growth in chicken meat consumption is mainly due to its lower prices.

Beef and lamb predictions

Consumption of beef in Australia is expected to rise over the next few years, reaching 33.8kg per person in 2016-17, before falling again to 31.3kg per person by 2017-18.

The growth of lamb consumption in Australia is expected to be small too, increasing by only 0.1kg to reach 9.6kg per person in 2017-18. The relative lack of growth in domestic lamb consumption reflects increased supplies to export markets and Australian consumer preference for cheaper proteins like chicken.

These projections are no doubt the challenge Australian beef and lamb producers’ representative body Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) is attempting to meet with its marketing campaigns for beef and lamb. MLA’s red meat campaigns have focused on promoting beef and lamb’s “superior satisfaction and desirability”, with slogans like “a BBQ without Beef is not a real BBQ”.

But Australian consumption of beef and veal does not seem to have dampened its popularity in global markets. According to the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), exports for May 2013 totalled 103,207 tonnes swt – 19 per cent above the corresponding month in 2012, and over 8,000 tonnes swt greater than the previous montly record set in November 2006 (94,693 tonnes swt).

Pig meat on the rise, but so are imports

Meanwhile, pig meat consumption in Australia has also increased, rising by 20 per cent over the ten years to 2011-12, to 25kg per person. In 2012-12, Australians ate 26kg of pig meat, and this is expected to grow to 27kg per person by 2017-18.

But a significant proportion of the projected consumption increase is expected to be met by imports, according to ABARES. Pig meat imports, as a share of domestic consumption, have grown from 23 per cent in 2002-03 to an estimated 49 per cent in 2012-13.

According to ABARES, the pig meat industry is the only Australian meat sector to have been under significant competition from imports. Australian pig meat imports are forecast to increase by 7 per cent in 2012-13 to 152,000 tonnes, and a further 9 per cent in 2013-14 to 165,000 tonnes.

ABARES said higher imports reflect the price competitiveness of Danish pig middles and North American legs used in the Australian processed pig meat sector. Additionally, the assumed high value of the Australian dollar is expected to result in imports remaining competitive. Pig meat imports are projected to reach 180,000 tonnes by 2017-18.