One of the key questions when it comes to Victoria’s chicken meat industry is its location. The broiler farms are located near the processing facilities of the company they are contracted to supply. This is where day old chicks are nurtured to slaughter weight. In addition, the need to reduce the transportation cost, improve access to infrastructure, labor, and the higher need to get near the customers has led to the processing facilities to be located near to metropolitan centers. Victoria’s chicken meat processing unit is located primarily in the Melbourne, Barwon, Gippsland, and Loddon regions. To reduce biosecurity risks the Victoria chicken industry has generally separated breeding farms from broiler farms (DEPI, 2013). Melbourne produces 64 percent of the total chicken production whereas the other remaining percent is produced in other production plants in Barwon (18 per cent), Gippsland (9 per cent), and Loddon (7 percent).
The Victorian chicken meat industry generally has investments across all the supply chain and thus making it to have a highly vertically integrated processing unit. This vertical integration ranges from breeding farms, feed mills, hatcheries, broilers farms, and processing plants. There are 224 businesses involved in chicken meat production under the Victoria chicken meat industry. There are around 200 broilers farm that grow meat chickens and work under the Victoria chicken industry where the processors retain ownership of the chickens throughout the supply chain. The victoria has a number of broiler farms that nurtures meat chickens and around 10 breeding facilities. At a single period the Victorian industry raises approximately 23 million broilers and 970,000 breeding stock. In every year there are about 128 million meat chickens and 1.9 million breeding chickens that are bred, raised, and replaced on a rotation batch basis.
The production of chicken meat happens in a number of production systems. These includes, conventional sheds, free-range and organic, so as to give consumers the best choice of chicken meat. There are different requirements in every system in relation to the mechanisms such as the use of purpose advanced fodder and antibiotics and the stocking density. In these different systems the subsequently retail price of the chicken and the costs of production are different. There are now four main processing companies under the Victoria chicken meat industry, which is as a result of consideration and rationalization. In addition, there are many smaller processors plans in Victoria chicken meat industry.
Around 134 million chickens were processed by Victoria Industry in 2011-2012. This was 234,400 tons of chicken meat that accounts to 24 per cent of Australian national production. This makes Victoria the second largest producer of chicken meat in the Australian market. In addition, Victoria poultry meat was at a gross of $ 487 million in 2009-2010. For over 50 years the Australian and specifically Victorian production of chicken meat has continued to increase steadily. The rise in domestic chicken meat consumption that was recorded in 2011-2012 matches the increased production of chicken in Australia. This high consumer’s demand is projected to remain high in coming years. However, even with the forecasted high grain prices and high consumption rates of chicken, the prices of the chicken are expected to remain substantially low that other substitutes meats. The carcass weight of a full grown chicken has increased from 1.6 kg to around 1.9 kg since 2000. This was the normal carcass weight for the retail and wholesale consumers chicken.
The domestic market consumes around 97 percent of chicken meat produced in Australia and thus surpassing the consumption of beef and veal. The consumption has increased from 4.4 kg in 1960 to 41.7 kg in 2010. This data makes Australia the second major consumer of chicken meat per capita after Brazil. All chicken consumed in Australia are locally produced. This is because the government has banned the importation of law chicken meat (Cordina Farm, 2006). Australia only exports 2 per cent of chicken meat. Over the past decades the consumptions has increased by a higher margin. At least every individual consumes chicken approximately three times a week. These chickens are nutritional with low fats and a significant source of daily requirement. Such requirements include niacin, iron, protein, B6, B12, Vitamin D, and Zinc. This industry has also helped a lot of people employing about 40, 000 people in Australia.
Chickens meals are very popular delicacies with Australians. It was until the 1960s that Australians started having chicken as a regular food in their homes. Peasant farmers kept chicken in their backyard for the production of eggs and to be eaten at special occasions and events. Availability of chicken to the Australian population was made possible by Coles and Woolworths, the two major supermarket chains in the country. As a result, during the 1980s, chicken prices drastically dropped and more Australians preferred to consume chicken meat to beef. The increase in the number of customers for chicken meat led to chicken producers to come up with a cooling system that was able to accommodate large numbers of birds by chilling them. This also allowed them to diversify the chicken into different forms to suit their clients. Due to its low cost of purchase, chicken became a common food for many households in Australia and all across the social classes (Ahlers, 2009). Supermarkets even started convincing consumers to consider replacing homemade meals by purchasing their cooked chicken as they advertised it as very clean, cheap and convenient for customers’ consumption
In addition to its low cost and convenience, chicken has also appealed to many Australians as the healthier option when compared to beef, pork and other red meat products. This is because other types of meat were readily associated with a lot of fat, coronary heart diseases and high levels of cholesterol. Marketing of chicken benefitted from the nutritional benefits associated with chicken meat. Producers and manufacturers of chicken meat benefit from the trend where customers tend to hold a preference for healthier food. Since chicken enjoys many health benefits, it is no wonder that clients over the social divide choose chicken as a staple food. Middle-class consumers however, prefer going back to backyard food production which includes rearing chicken for both meat and eggs. Most of the people in this group do this in an effort to cut down on costs of buying food that they can have it from their backyard.
In Australia, chicken consumption has been associated with progress. It is no wonder that leaders of the nation have been making promises to the electorate that they will ensure that they will be ‘a chicken in every pot’. Chicken meat offers mothers and children a favorite meal in the homes, which is not only enjoyable, but also very healthy. Consumption of chicken however depends on some external factors. This is because the consumers are more aware of their health options and they are also more knowledgeable about the food supply.
For a long time now, chicken has been perceived as a healthy option when compared to other kinds of meat. However, the most common method of cooking chicken is through frying. Unfortunately, fried foods have very close links with various diseases of the heart. Selling of fatty chicken is bound to drop as scholars highly vouch for other ways of cooking the chicken which do not include frying or deep frying. There are also fears that chicken may transmit bird flu. However, scholars and scholarly articles have reassured Australians that properly cooked chicken cannot transmit diseases. In addition, Australian chicken is properly vaccinated and it is illegal to import raw chicken so as to maintain healthy chicken production in Australia (Nicholls, Paterson & Waller, 2008). Consumers have also expressed fears concerning the production of chicken due to the type of food they are fed on and the additives given to them. When scientists and researchers inform consumers that the methods of feeding are unsafe, the consumers cut back on chicken consumption. If the researchers inform the public that the birds are fed well and kept under good conditions, the customers keep up the consumption of the chicken. This shows that the view of the scholars and meat experts matters a lot to the public and hence their comments affect the chicken market.
Consumption of chicken in Australia is highly embraced by people of all ages, religions and social circles. As a matter of fact, medical experts and health care professionals in Australia advocate for the consumption of chicken by the Australian population. This is because of the many health benefits that chicken provides to the human body. For instance, the baked lean chicken breast was found to provide over 85% of the daily niacin requirement for an adult. The lean chicken breast is also rich in protein, as it provides more than half of the recommended intake for everyone except teenage boys, whose protein requirements are very high. Children also benefit a lot from chicken breast as it provides the amounts of magnesium and zinc that is recommended (Dixon, 2002). Adequate amounts of riboflavin, around 10% are also found in chicken breast. Nutritionally, chicken fulfills a great part of the Australian diet. In addition, its high protein content helps the efforts of people who are keen on losing weight.
Socially, the chicken production industry has enabled thousands of households to earn their living for many years. This has helped many individuals to achieve a social standing with their peers. Farms and processing plants that house chicken processing farms sit on land that residential developers attach great value to. This is because they think of how to develop the land and build offices as well as residential and commercial houses. Neighbors who live close to chicken processing plants complain of the smell from the chicken excretes stating that it is a health as well as an environmental concern to them. There are concerns that aim at the animal’s welfare during the time that the transportation of the live birds is necessary (Nicholls & Paterson, 2008). Due to this, processing plants are now being located closer to the chicken farms, which are also closer to the residential areas of most customers. This raises environmental concerns for the people living close to these areas.
In conclusion, the abundance of easily affordable chicken is progressively being associated with some opinions regarding with making progress. For many Australian families, having chicken is a very efficient way of making a meal that is cost-friendly. For busy mothers who work full-time, chicken has become a quick-fix meal for their children. It is a dish that children love to have, as well as a nutritious meal for them. To a great extent, chicken has influenced the culinary culture of Australians that they regard it as a very healthy diet.
- Ahlers, C. 2009. Improving village chicken production a manual for field workers and trainers. Canberra, A.C.T.: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
- Cordina Farm, (CF). Facts about Chicken – Products – Cordina Farms. 2006. Home – Cordina Farms. Retrieved July 17, 2013
- DEPI, Department of Environment and Primary Industries. 2013. Victoria’s Chicken Meat Industry. Department of Environment and Primary Industries – Home. Retrieved July 17, 2013
- Dixon, J. 2002. The changing chicken: chooks, cooks and culinary culture. Sydney: UNSW Press.
- Nicholls, C., & Paterson, J. 2008.Chicken: the story of chicken in Australia. Cloverdale, W.A.: Kondinin Group.
- Nicholls, C., Paterson, J. & Waller, R. 2008. Chicken : the story of chicken in Australia. Cloverdale, W.A: Kondinin Group.
- The Poultry Site. 2013. Chicken Meat in Australia: Outlook to 2017–18 – Poultry Articles from The Poultry Site – The Poultry Site. 2013. Poultry, Poultry Health, Welfare, Diseases, Poultry News, Articles, Photos of Chickens, Poultry Photo – The Poultry Site. Retrieved July 17, 2013