Pi Attitude Zone: Flexibility

Chicken Segments

When talking poultry, brown is East and breast is West.  And ever the twain shall meat, (if you’ll pardon the dreadful pun).

Hey, wait, come back.  Pi is not just trying to be clever.  Aphorisms aside, there really is an East-West divide in terms of the type of chicken meat people favor.  The dark meat from chicken legs and thighs is the part of the bird most favored by consumers across Asia.  White chicken meat is more to the taste of Western palates, and American and European shoppers will happily pay up to four times the price per kilo for lean breast meat relative to ‘chicken drumsticks’ and the like. 

As a result, Europe sends chicken legs (and feet) over to China, but imports white chicken meat from all over Asia.  Chicken wholesalers mostly no longer think in terms of whole chickens, but are guided instead by the birds’ “break-up value”.

Who cares, you ask?  This odd state of affairs is important, because chicken has become the world’s most popular meat in less than a decade.  Hitherto pork meat ruled the roost, but poultry has caught up, with way more than100 million tonnes sold annually worldwide. 

Three forces are driving the trend.  The first is lower production cost.  Compared to the investment in animal feed involved in raising beef or pork, feeding chickens costs significantly less per kilo of meat produced.  The second reason is rising prosperity and affluence in the world’s emerging economies, pushing meat consumption higher;  since chicken is cheaper than other meats, it is ahead of the overall growth curve.  Lastly, it matters that Islamic culture has strictures against eating pork, and Hinduism interdicts beef-eating.  But no significant world religion has anything against chicken.

Chicken meat will be the unassailable cock of the roost by 2020, by which date the world is projected to be demanding around 130 million tonnes of the stuff.

If that prediction comes true, the long-term news for Westerners is good.  With Asian demand for chicken driving production skywards, and the brown meat mostly being kept for Oriental cooking pots, there will be plenty of cheap chicken breasts left over for hungry Occidentals.

Zone: Flexibility Country: Asia / Pacific Product – Consumer Products