A world average of about 12.5 kilograms of poultry meat has been eaten per person in 2011. This compares with 13.5 kg for pork, 8 kg for beef and veal combined and 1.6 kg for sheep meat.

In terms of total volume, while the consumption of poultry meat is now about 100 million metric tons annually, that of pork is 109 million tons, beef/veal is close to 65 million tons and sheep meat is 13 million tons.

Chart 1 compares the uptake of different meats as a percentage of the total world market. It reinforces the message that poultry already rivals pork as the world’s most popular meat. Several forecasters believe that it will gain the number one place within the next five to six years.

In its favour, poultry meat can claim to be the most affordable of all meats and the most available in all countries. Almost 60% of the amount consumed each year reflects consumption in the less developed economies. This part of its demand picture is predicted to grow much more quickly than in the developed nations over the coming years, as an important factor in driving it ahead of pork on a global basis.

Wide regional variations   

Chart 2 gives a view of poultry meat consumption by region, showing that the regional share represented by Asia-Pacific is now close to 40%, whereas each of the three regions of Latin America, North America and Europe represents around 18% to 20%. Table 1 provides a different regional perspective by showing how the average rate of uptake per person per year compares between regions, with exceptionally higher rates currently in North America, Latin America and Europe than in Asia-Pacific and Africa.


A further indication of the variations in average annual rates that exist internationally is given in chart 3. Relatively few countries worldwide can claim a current average of 30 kg or more of broiler meat consumed per person each year and many places are still below 12 kg on this reckoning, which is shown in the chart according to ready-to-cook weight.

Chicken and turkey are clearly winning the battle for the U.S. consumer’s vote, on the long-term trend graphed by chart 4. For calendar year 2011, the total uptake of all meats in the USA is reckoned at around 94 kg. At that level, it would be the fourth year in succession that U.S. meat consumption per person had declined – the first time on record that this has happened over such an extended period. But chart 5 confirms the decrease to have been due almost entirely to a decline in the popularity of beef, as poultry meat consumption has largely held level even if not matching the peaks of 2006-07. In fact the latest figures show that chicken consumption in the USA rose in 2010, for the first time since 2006. The combined red meat category of beef plus pork, on the other hand, seemed likely in 2011 to be at its lowest since official records began in 1935.

Across the world, the view is that meat consumption trends will be increasingly affected by a combination of limiting factors. Among these are the ageing of the population and a tendency for consumers in more matured markets to be deterred by negative publicity on such matters as the environment and animal welfare. Higher meat prices resulting from increased production costs have also proved a deterrent to sales. Elsewhere there have been incidents of a sudden drop in the demand for meat after a highly publicized disease outbreak in animals or birds.

Against these considerations are the aspects of improving personal incomes and of the continuing increase in the number of mouths to feed, even if the world population’s growth rate is slowing.