On the world stage chicken production represents some 87% of all poultry meat, compared with nearly 6% for turkey meat, 4% for duck meat and less than 3% for the combined category of geese with guinea fowl (see chart 1).

Production trends for the “other poultry meats” (that is, not chicken) are demonstrated by chart 2. From this, the most obvious growth area over the past 10 years was in producing meat from ducks.

Although other types of poultry meat are minorities in global volume compared with chicken, in one respect they stand out. For each of the other poultry meats, production is far more concentrated geographically than for the chicken sector.

The accompanying table 1 names the top five producing countries according to poultry meat type. The first point to note is how the lineup differs for every species.

Although the USA is the biggest in both chicken and turkey, for example, China claims the top spot in the duck and goose categories. Regionally, the Americas score in chicken while Western Europe is the major player on the turkey scene, the Middle East and Eastern Europe rank as top suppliers in geese production, and Asia is predominant in duck meat production.

Market shares   

But larger differences in geographic concentration are underlined by calculations for this Executive Guide. These indicate that the top five countries in turkey meat produce 78% of world output. The market share of the top five in duck meat is 82.5%. In the production of meat from geese and guinea fowl, the five largest producers account for 98% of all supplies.

By contrast, we calculate that the top five countries in the chicken business currently represent no more than 53% of the total volume produced worldwide.

The USA is by far the largest national producer of turkey meat. The next in size would be the combined European community of the EU-27, where the annual output of approximately 1.8 million metric tons compares with a U.S. total of more than 2.5 million tons.

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Chart 3 graphs the trend in U.S. turkey meat production by weight since 2000 while chart 4 has the comparable trends for the four other main contenders on a smaller scale. More details for the USA are given in chart 5, which follows the development of U.S. production according to the number of turkeys produced annually and the total value of that output per year.

Annual production in the USA peaked at 2.8 million metric tons as recently as 2008, although the most turkeys produced in a year was 292.9 million in 1995. Currently the volume is around 244 million birds per year, the majority of which are produced by relatively few companies. Table 2 lists the companies producing most U.S. turkey meat in 2010 and 2011.

In 2010, U.S. wholesale turkey prices were at their third largest premium to chicken prices since 1986. An analysis by the Economic Research Service concluded that the three-region wholesale price for whole birds in October 2010 had been 65.8% higher than the average that applied in the period of 1998 to 2000. On that same reckoning, however, feed prices for turkey producers were 77% above the 1998 to 2000 average by December 2010, and kept rising afterward to reach levels approximately 130% higher by the period of May to June 2011.

The region for ducks   

Chart 6 shows the rising pattern of duck meat production when viewed globally. Asia is the main world region for producing duck meat, having a market share of close to 84%. China is the region’s largest producer, as might be expected, but it has also contributed most to the striking growth in regional duck meat production since 2000.

While Asia’s overall growth rate in this respect has been 43.5%, which represented 1 million metric tons of additional volume, the contribution from China alone was about 840,000 tons for a national increase of 44.5%.

The number of ducks produced for meat globally was about 800 million in 1990, rising to 2 billion in 2000 and nearly 2.7 billion in 2010, compared with current totals of 660 million for turkeys and 625 million for geese and guinea fowl.