Chicken breaks another production record
02 March 2017
Yet again – for the eighth consecutive year, in fact – chicken has registered record production figures, according to recently released data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
In 2016, chicken production increased 8% year-on-year, to 1.20 million tonnes carcase weight (cwt). This is in stark contrast to beef, which declined 16% to 2.10 million tonnes cwt, as the tightening pool of cattle and record high prices saw slaughter drop from the historic high levels of 2014 and 2015.
In terms of the other major animal proteins:
- Sheepmeat production declined 3% year-on-year, to 686,000 tonnes cwt
- Pork increased 3%, to 386,000 tonnes cwt
- Goatmeat slipped 8%, to 30,000 tonnes cwt
While extensive livestock production systems were impacted by tight supplies, pork and chicken production expansion was supported by cheap feed grain prices. Average pork carcase weights hit new record levels – but low by global standards – at 76.22kg, while chickens remained historically high, at 1.86kg. In comparison, cheap grain has provided some relief to Australian lotfeeders, but has not been able to offset the steep rise in feeder cattle prices over the past two years.
As illustrated in the figure below, beef remains the leader in animal protein production in Australia, however its share last year declined to 48% in 2016 - well below the 70% recorded during the beef crash in the 1970s. Given both beef and sheepmeat production are forecast to contract further in 2017, amid producer efforts to rebuild herds and flocks, and there is ample feed grain supply in global circulation, it is likely chicken will continue to challenge the production mix.
Growth in chicken supply, virtually all of which remains on the domestic market but is not supplemented by imports, kept retail prices subdued. According to ABS data, indicative chicken prices eased 3% year-on-year, to average $5.34/kg retail weight in 2016, compared to the 9%, 6% and 2% growth in beef, lamb and pork prices, respectively.
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