Although the chicken industry is a global phenomenon, a significant majority of the products come from the United States. It has been one of the most successful sectors in American agricultural markets for nearly 50 years. It has grown into a vertically integrated, highly efficient success story that features broilers, miscellaneous meat products, and a growing desire to integrate turkey into the modern diet.
The industry has been forced to evolve over the decades because of changes in consumer preference. By the 1980s, most customers wanted to have their chicken either cut up or sent through for further processing instead of selling the entire bird. When broilers became easier to process for consumers, it began a trend where households preferred products from this industry compared to red meat items.
Chicken consumption will eventually surpass beef consumption in the United States in 1992. The industry had already blown by pork consumption in 1985.
With new requirements for quality control protecting the food chain, the chicken industry provides a global resource that feeds families all over the world. Broilers are meatier and cheaper than in the past, providing an essential form of protein to the world that was not possible even 15 years ago.
Essential Chicken Industry Statistics
#1. There are currently more than 233,000 poultry farms operating in the United States. These operations combined to produce 8.5 billion broilers, roughly 100 billion eggs, and 238 million turkeys for consumption. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#2. The combined value of production for the chicken industry in the United States was $48.3 billion in 2014. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#3. There are approximately 35 federally inspected companies that are involved in the process of raising, processing, and marketing chickens on a vertically integrated basis. That means the business is fully engaged in every step of the quality assurance process for the poultry. (National Chicken Council)
#4. Almost 55,000,000,000 pounds of live weight broiler chickens were produced in the United States in 2017. More than 41 billion pounds of chicken products were marketed to consumers as measured on a ready-to-cook basis. (National Chicken Council)
#5. The broiler chicken industry in the United States is the largest in the world. About 16.5% of the live-weight poultry products that are produced each year reach the export market. Hong Kong, Canada, and Mexico are the top destinations for American farmers. (National Chicken Council)
#6. Approximately 25,000 family farmers have production contracts with the 35 companies that process poultry products for the market. 95% of the broiler chickens grown in the United States come from these farms. The remainder are produced on commercial properties. (National Chicken Council)
#7. The global chicken industry produced almost 123 million tons of food products in 2018. It remains the most-produced meat in terms of metric tonnage in the world. China and Brazil join the U.S. as the top producers. (Poultry Trends)
#8. Americans consume over 94 pounds of chicken products every year. In 1960, they were eating only 28 pounds of chicken products annually. (National Chicken Council)
#9. Only 11% of the broilers that American farmers grow each year for the chicken industry are marketed as a whole product. In 1962, 83% of the chickens were marketed in this way. (National Chicken Council)
#10. In 1962, only 2% of broiler chickens in the United States were sent along for further processing. That figure reached 46% in 2009. (National Chicken Council)
#11. The chicken industry in the United States, when combined with figures from the egg industry, supplies about 500,000 jobs for workers across the country. This industry produces $28 billion in wages, along with $433 billion in economic activities. (The Poultry Federation)
#12. 77% of the cash receipts generated by the agricultural industry in the state of Arkansas came from the poultry industry, contributing $3.14 billion in revenues. (National Chicken Council)
#13. Broilers represent 38% of Arkansas’s total agricultural cash receipts. (The Poultry Federation)
#14. About 13% of the 80,000 farms in the state of Oklahoma are producing chicken products that are brought to the market eventually. Poultry is the third-most valuable livestock commodity in the state. (The Poultry Federation)
#15. The average job in Oklahoma that involves working with chickens pays $44,000 per year in wages and benefits. (The Poultry Federation)
#16. The egg industry in the state of Missouri supports over 2,000 jobs. Raising turkeys supports another 12,000 positions, while the broiler industry supports approximately 40,000 jobs. The average wages paid in the state are $51,000 per year, including benefits. (The Poultry Federation)
#17. Almost 300 chickens are processed through meat production facilities in the United States every second to support the global food chain. (Free From Harm)
#18. The average amount of time it takes for chicken farmers to raise broiler’s that are suitable for the market is 42 days. About 51 billion chickens are processed in this way each year. (Free From Harm)
#19. A modern chicken facility can process over 140 birds per minute, creating an efficient system which helps to support local markets. (Free From Harm)
#20. The United States is the only country in the world which produces more than 15 million tons of chicken products each year. Brazil, China, and the European Union all produce more than 10,000,000 tons of poultry products respectively. (Australian Chicken Meat Federation)
#21. Brazil is the second-largest producer of chicken products globally, but they are the No. 1 exporter of poultry. Almost 4 million tons reaches the market each year compared to the 3 million tons the U.S. produces. (Foreign Agricultural Service)
#22. Malaysia consumes the most chicken per person in the world today, with nearly 55kg per person. Several countries are above 40kg per person, including Honk Kong, Qatar, Australia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Argentina. (Foreign Agricultural Service)
#23. Australia produced 664 million chickens for the global poultry industry in 2017. This production level offered 1.23 million tons of food products for domestic and international consumption. (Australian Chicken Meat Federation)
#24. In 1925, the feed to meat gain for chickens in the United States was 4.7 pounds of food to create 1 pound of broiler liveweight at a mortality rate of 18%. In 2017, it required 1.83 pounds of food for each pound of liveweight, and the mortality rate was 4.5%. (National Chicken Council)
#25. 47% of the wholesale value of broiler products come from plant shipments in the United States today. They represent 45% of the overall wholesale market. (National Chicken Council)
#26. American meat companies produced 42.2 billion pounds of chicken in 2017. They also produced 25.6 billion pounds of pork and another 26.3 billion pounds of beef. (North American Meat Institute)
#27. There were 835 federally inspected livestock slaughter plants operating in the United States in 2018. There are 2,979 federally inspected poultry processing and slaughter plants in the US as well. (North American Meat Institute)
#28. Employees working in meatpacking and processing plants in the United States earn an average of $14.98 per hour plus benefits. Poultry processing workers earn less, at just $13.58 per hour plus benefits. (North American Meat Institute)
#29. The meat and poultry industry and the United States accounts for 5.6% of the GDP. The total value of all of these activities is $1.02 trillion. (North American Meat Institute)
#30. Over 5.4 million jobs are created because of the meat and poultry industry in the United States. These employment positions represent $257 billion in wages. Approximately 10% of the open positions involve production, packing, sales, and direct distribution. (North American Meat Institute)
#31. American spend less as a percentage of their disposable income on food at home than any other country in the world. U.S. households spent 6.4% of their disposable income on groceries in 2015. Singapore was in second at 6.7%. The United Kingdom and Switzerland spend over 8% of their disposable income on food products. (World Economic Forum)
#32. In 2017, the chicken industry in Canada produce products worth $2.5 billion. These activities contributed to 4.1% of the cash receipts that were directly associated with farming operations in the country. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
#33. There are currently 2,836 regulated poultry producers in Canada. There are another 4,700 commercial egg and chicken providers in the country, with several firms associated with these agricultural activities. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
#34. Canada produce 1.2 billion kg of chicken products in 2017 when measured by their eviscerated weight. Over 60% of the poultry industry in the country is produced in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
#35. The food availability of chicken products in Canada was 33.1 kg per person in 2017. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
#36. Retail purchases of chicken products represent 59% of the total food availability from the industry in Canada. Fast food purchases represented another 24% of the industry, while full-service restaurants consumed 12%. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
#37. Canada exported roughly 7 million chicks with a value of over $23 million to 28 countries in 2017. The United States was the largest recipient, purchasing 65% of the overall headcount. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
#38. Sussex County in the state of Delaware was the top county in the United States for overall poultry production, with the average weight of a live chicken in the region topping 7 pounds. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
#39. 30% of the top call tree companies in the United States have growers or facilities which are located in Delaware. These companies are Mountaire Farms, Perdue Farms, and Tyson Foods. (Delmarva)
#40. A significant portion of the grain that the state of Delaware produces each year goes to support the poultry industry as chicken feed. Over 85 million bushels of corn, 35 million bushels of soybeans, and 1.7 million bushels of wheat are used by farmers to create broilers and chicken products for the global food chain. (Delmarva)
#41. The value of shipments from poultry processing in the United States were $63.9 billion in 2015. That is over $12 billion more than what the industry produced in 2008. (Statista)
#42. Payments from chicken processors and companies operating in the United States to contract growers rose by 6% in 2016 to a total value of $243 million. (Delmarva)
#43. Total wages in the chicken industry based in the United States saw a gain of 7.7% in 2016, adding an additional $663 million in earnings for workers. (Delmarva)
#44. The average cost to raise a chicken in the United States is up to $30 per bird depending on the breed and age being evaluated. Each chicken requires $5 worth of food per month, along with another $3 for miscellaneous expenses. (Backyard Chickens)
#45. Chicken and turkey meat production in the United States generates $36 billion in total revenues per year. Since 2014, the revenues available to the industry have declined by an average of 2.1%. (IBIS World)
#46. There are currently 64,000 employees associated with chicken and turkey production in the United States. Another 54,000 businesses are active in this part of the industry right now. (IBIS World)
#47. The number of businesses operating in the chicken industry has risen by 7% in the United States since 2014. This increase has translated to a growth in employment opportunities of 5.2%. (IBIS World)
#48. At any given time in the world today, there are 21 billion chickens being cared for because they will eventually enter the human food chain in some way. (Statista)
#49. The chicken industry in South Africa contributes more than 16% of the GDP, employing over 108,000 people throughout its related industries in value chain. (AFMA)
#50. South Africa produces over 330,000 tons of eggs to support the global chicken industry each year. (AFMA)
#51. Since 2010, there has been a 48.5% increase in producer pricing, helping to support higher wages for agricultural workers all over the world. (AFMA)
Chicken Industry Trends and Analysis
As consumers continue to move to poultry products as a way to avoid the potential health risks of consuming red meat, the chicken industry stands to grow exponentially in the future. Producers will need to look for ways to continue increasing the amount of food they can create while maintaining cost levels at a similar point to what they are today to continue pushing revenues forward.
Chicken consumption in the Asia-Pacific region will continue increasing as well, likely topping pork products by the year 2023 at the latest. Egg consumption continues to grow because of their affordable cost profile and nutrient density.
Food contamination will continue to be the primary concern of consumers who prefer poultry products. The chicken industry must continue to find ways to monitor the health of their flocks without relying in antibiotics and other drugs to maintain their bottom line. Suppliers must review all selections carefully to focus on quality over price to ensure the food chain remains healthy around the world.
In less than two generations, the chicken industry has reduced the time to market for poultry products by over 30 days. With consumers preferring authentic foods that are sustainably grown now more than ever before, this industry has an opportunity to become the dominant force in the global agricultural sector.
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