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A world average of 90.77 million metric tons of poultry meat per year was consumed during the period 2007 to 2009. Some 35% of this represented consumption in the Asia-Pacific countries, with 20% in Latin America and the Caribbean. But as Chart 1 illustrates, the market remains well-spread globally as there are shares of slightly over 18.5% for North America and nearly 18% for Europe alongside 3.5 to 4% for Africa.

The joint review of market prospects produced by OECD and FAO considers that the world consumption of poultry meat could increase almost 28% by 2019, compared with the 2007-09 average. It projects a possible rise of 19% in the annual uptake per person in developing economies with just 11% for the developed economies.

Amount per person  

A common confusion in food market analyses is to mistake consumption for demand. The average weight of meat eaten per person annually in a country or region is more useful to compare rates of uptake between territories and different meats than to identify short-term variations in demand as expressed by consumer purchases within a country.

For poultry meat in 2010, dividing a total consumption figure of 94 million metric tons by a nominal human population of 6.9 billion indicates an average of 13.62 kilograms consumed worldwide.

The average for the three years 2007 to 2009 worked out at 13.5 kilograms (kg). However, it masked a consumption gap between developed and developing economies that continues to be significant. Whereas the developed-economy countries shared a 2007-2009 average of 27.9 kg, according to an OECD review, in developing-economy countries the figure was only 9.9 kg.

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Regionally, too, the differences soon emerge. Again on the basis of 2007-2009 averages, North America had by far the largest rate of poultry meat consumption per person per year at 49.2 kg. Next biggest was the combined average of 38.1 kg found for Australia and New Zealand, ahead of 31.6 kg for Latin America and the Caribbean and 22.4 kg for Europe. At the other end of the scale came the Asia-Pacific with 8.2 kg and Africa with 3.5 kg.

In round terms, chicken meat — almost all from broilers — accounts for about 11.5 kg of the poultry meat consumed per person globally.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics on the total consumption of broiler meat by country in 2009 and 2010 are expressed in terms of dressed weight (ready-to-cook = RTC) rather than carcass weight. They show domestic uptakes of broiler meat that range from 13.6 million metric tons in the USA, 12.6 million metric tons in China, 8.6 million metric tons in the EU-27 and 8 million metric tons in Brazil down to 3.3 million metric tons in Mexico, 2.7 million metric tons in Russia and India, almost 2 million metric tons in Japan, 1.6 million metric tons in Iran and around 1.4 million metric tons in both Argentina and South Africa.

Longer-term trend  

Chart 2 looks at the longer-term trend for poultry meat consumption in some indicator countries and the European Union. Several of these were already at or over the world average for uptake per person per year in 2000, yet they have managed to increase their rates even further during the last 10 years. Few of the lower-rate countries at the start of this comparison achieved more than steady growth, the exception being Russia.

The view over the long term shows that consumption patterns are changing. A U.S. report for 1970 found that 70% of poultry sales nationally were in whole-bird form and just 11% were further processed. In 2009, only 4% of meat was sold whole and 48% further processed. There has also been the fast-food revolution in the USA in the meantime, so that food-service outlets now account for 42% of U.S. chicken sales.

Also in the USA, the National Turkey Federation has noted how the consumption of turkey meat has changed to being year-round instead of highly seasonal. U.S. turkey consumption in 2009 was 7.7 kg per person, practically unchanged from the level recorded in 2000. But the amount has more than doubled in 40 years and in that time the proportion eaten in the last quarter of the year has dropped from over half to under one-third.