Overall world meat production remains relatively flat, increasing 1.7 percent in 2018 to more than 336 million metric tons, according to projections from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO projects significant expansion in Asia, where China is expected to recover, as well as the Americas and Europe. However, the poultry sector expanded, coming in at more than 120.5 million metric tons in 2016 and forecast at nearly 122.5 million metric tons in 2018, representing a 1.6 percent change from 2017 to 2018 (Table 1). Poultry, according to FAO, has been the meat with the largest production since 2016.

For another year, developing countries captured the majority of poultry meat production and consumption in 2017. Although production growth has slowed, changing diets in these developing countries and strengthening economies continue to increase poultry production worldwide (Figure 1). During the past 15 years from 2003-18, poultry production was up nearly 46 million metric tons compared to 43 million metric tons in the period 2002-2017, according to FAO reports (Figure 2). In comparing individual countries, U.S., China and Brazil remain the leaders in poultry meat production, with 2018 production in those countries forecast by FAO at 22.35 million metric tons, 17.81 million metric tons and 13.74 million metric tons, respectively. Other notable countries contributing to the world’s total poultry production in 2018 are the collective European Union, Russia and Mexico (Figure 3).  

Developing countries continue to drive demand

Shifting dietary patterns in developing regions have resulted in a world meat consumption average of 34.3 kilograms per person per year over the average base period 2015-17, which will continue to grow slowly as population growth slows by about 1 kilogram over the next decade to nearly 35.4 kilograms per person per year by the end of the outlook period in 2027. Of this meat consumption, poultry sits at 13.91 kilograms per person per year on average worldwide for the base period 2015-17, rising only subtly to 14.7 in 2027 (Figure 4). Developing regions like the Middle East/North Africa region, Latin America and Asia Pacific will account for much growth in per capita meat consumption over the next decade. With many of the countries in the Middle East experiencing positive growth rates over the past decade and rising, this is good for poultry consumption overall, but is not projected to drastically affect food consumption in the near term (see infographic).

State of prices, trade

In the medium term, FAO projects that poultry production will benefit from positive meat-to-feed price ratios enabling flock expansions in key producing regions. Increased productivity in these regions, FAO says will also support a supply-driven market that will lower meat prices in the nearer term (Figure 5).

U.S. broiler production will remain relatively flat from 2017-18 compared to 2018-19, while U.S. turkey producers are forecast to increase their production by less than 2 percent in 2018-19 compared to 2017-18 as they continue to control avian influenza in 2018 (Figure 6). Global meat trade is forecast by FAO to grow at a slower rate of 1.8 percent in 2018, due to fewer imports from China. In line with overall meat trade, poultry meat trade worldwide is also supposed to grow at a substantially slower rate than in years past at 1.9 percent in 2018. Here, however, poultry is expected to benefit from increased Chinese and Japanese markets, as well as some Middle East/North Africa regions (Figure 7). Much of the increased export demand for poultry is expected to be met by the production coming out of the U.S., among other countries.