It’s no secret that higher living standards globally are expected to boost meat consumption – but the choice of meat for many in the future is likely to increasingly become chicken, according to a leading food consultant.

Speaking at ONE18, Osler Desouzart, chief executive, ODConsulting, explained world poultry consumption could grow by as much as 16.2% up by the year 2026.

It means the world population will be eating an extra 18,379t a year within the next decade.

The meat of choice

“As we get more money in our pockets we eat more meat,” he said. “If the money reduces this affects this discretely and as a consequence, this decreases, but as soon as we have more money this increases again.”

Similarly, he explained world meat consumption is expected to increase by 40.7 million tonnes over the same period – with half of that coming from a boom in demand in Asia – a number which rises to three-quarters when once other developing countries – such as Africa and South America are included.

“Europe is no longer the driver – the drivers of our industry have changed and they are now in Asia,” he said.

“In the future, poultry meat will be the meat of choice in almost 41% of instances, followed by pork at 23.4% and beef in 18.79%, with the remaining 17% sheep and goat meat.”

Why chicken?

Poultry preference, contrary to popular belief was not down to price.

Desouzart said it’s popularity had, in fact, come down to the fact it was accessible, convenient, versatile and its taste was universally accepted.

“More poultry products have been launched since the ’90s than of all other meats together. This constant innovation renders its consumption feasible several times a week without boring the consumer,” he said.

“Bovine clients come to me and say it’s less expensive – and I say, ‘No, it’s less stupid, the last product innovated in the beef industry was the hamburger’.

“By comparison every year there are 65 new chicken products invented a year.”

Production growth

However, Desouzart said he expects that much of the growth in production will also come from developing countries – particularly, China, Brazil and India.

The largest growth in poultry production is expected to come from Brazil, with an extra 3,800t a year, followed closely by the US and then China.

He said that as a result, the future would not be determined by energy, but rather by those who have access to water – and again, chicken might just have an edge in terms of its use of water.

Desouzart showed figures claiming it takes 15.4L of water to produce one kilo of beef compared to 4.3L to produce the same volume of chicken.

Stable water would be one of the most important factors for sustainable agricultural production of the future.

“If you look in China, we go from drought to floods,” he said. “The stability is the issue. I think they will have the ways to self-sufficient but the speed of growth of the consumption in Asia and in Africa will surpass the capacity to react.”