Similar research was conducted in 2008, and the most recent report shows that consumer belief in these myths still remains, even after a decade.
While there has been a positive shift in consumer understanding
- 40% of consumers incorrectly believe that hormones and steroids can be used.
- Around 12% of survey respondents said that antibiotics are used to increase the growth rate of meat chickens. This is despite the introduction of an industry-wide policy 15 years ago of no use of antibiotics for growth promotion.
- Conversely, only 18% of consumers surveyed correctly believe that meat chickens are raised without cages.
The Australian Chicken Meat Foundation Executive Director Dr Vivien Kite said that these beliefs are simply untrue.
“In Australia, meat chickens are not raised in cages and the use of hormones and steroids was banned decades ago,” she said.
“Our rigorous Australian standards restrict antibiotic use only to treat unwell chickens or prevent infections if there is a high risk of disease. Also, strict withholding periods exist to ensure that there are no antibiotics present at the time of processing.”
Lead researcher Professor Wendy Umberger is the Executive Director of the Centre for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide said that it was interesting to see that such misperceptions still exist after such a long period of time.
“While its concerning that these myths still exist, the research found consumers are generally satisfied with the quality and safety of chicken meat.”
“Chicken has the lowest environmental footprint of all meats, and is the least expensive form of meat protein. More than 99% of chicken meat sold in Australia is born, bred, and raised in Australia, giving shoppers confidence their choice is good for them, their wallet, and the environment.”
- The gross value of production (farm gate value) of the chicken meat industry in 2020-21 will be approximately $2.89 billion (ABARES, 2021).
- In 2020-21, it is predicted the average Australian will consume 46.4kg of chicken per year compared to 19.8kg of beef and veal and 5.5kg of sheep meat (ABARES, 2021).
- Chicken meat continues to be the dominant meat protein consumed by Australians, with over two-thirds of Australian households serving chicken meat at least twice per week (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Price, taste, health/nutrition, country of origin and food safety are the most important drivers of food choices for the average Australian grocery shopper (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Chicken meat continues to be the preferred protein for most Australian consumers because of its convenience, value for money and flavour (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- More consumers indicated increasing (37%) rather than decreasing (8%) their consumption of chicken meat (in the past 12 months). Price and ease of preparation are the main reasons for increasing consumption (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Price is the main purchase driver for the average Australian chicken meat shopper. However, consumers are paying more attention to on-package labelling information on chicken meat products (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Overall, consumers’ main concerns about chicken meat production are similar to 2008. While use of steroids/hormones and use of antibiotics in chicken meat production remain top concerns, country of origin is of equally high concern to consumers (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Consumers generally have a poor understanding of chicken meat production practices in Australia – especially around ‘high-concern’ issues (including the use of steroids/hormones and of antibiotics, the sale of overseas-produced chicken in Australia) and the use of cages (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Just 17% of consumers (correctly) believe steroids/hormones cannot be used, but 40% believe they can be used (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- 59% of consumers are not sure if chickens produced overseas are sold in Australia (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
- Only 18% of consumers (correctly) believe meat chickens cannot be raised in cages, with 50% of consumers uncertain (Umberger & Malek, 2021).
Umberger, W.J & Malek, L. (2021). Market insights for Australia’s chicken meat industry [online]. Available at https://www.agrifutures.com.au/product/market-insights-for-australias-chicken-meat-industry [Accessed 4 March 2021].
ABARES, (2021). Agricultural commodities and trade data. [online] Available at: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/agricultural-outlook/data#agricultural-commodities [Accessed 2 March 2021].
AgriFutures Australia | Communications, Manager
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