The poultry industry's road to recovery

Challenging circumstances with a gradually improving outlook

Chicken Supermarket Woman

Nan-Dirk Mulder, senior analyst animal protein of Rabobank, shines a light on the global poultry market in the post-Covid-19 period. He foresees a bumpy road to recovery, with significant differences between countries and a still very competitive global poultry market. “The industry should develop a very disciplined supply strategy for the coming year and be prepared for big swings in demand driven by Covid-19-related government decisions.” In the long run, the outlook for the poultry industry is very positive.

Disruptions caused by the pandemic, combined with high feed prices, soft economic conditions, avian influenza outbreaks and global oversupply, have resulted in huge challenges for the industry. “In the first half of 2021, the global poultry industry faces tough circumstances with recovery to follow.” That is the main message from Rabobank’s poultry analyst Nan-Dirk Mulder for now, implying that Covid-19 will continue putting stress on foodservice and trade.
The economic growth will be slow, leading to more price-driven markets. At the same time, there are several other factors to be taken into account: oversupply issues are troublesome, avian influenza (AI) is still around, feed prices are highly volatile, countries affected by ASF show a bouncy recovery.

Chicken Barbecue

Discipline in supply

Due to oversupply issues in various parts of the world, such as Europe and China, prices are expected to be low. Nan-Dirk Mulder, Rabobank’s senior analyst, says: “The poultry industry needs to develop a very disciplined supply strategy. More than in recent years, the focus must be on cost reduction via procurement and production efficiency, while being prepared for big swings in demand driven by Covid-19-related government decisions.”

Start of recovery

As countries reopen foodservice, with improved control of Covid-19, the poultry industry will start to recover. On average, 35% of global poultry consumption is via foodservice. “In countries where several of these disruptive factors come together, broiler prices have risen to high levels. Some governments have started to intervene to protect their economies against price inflation,” according to Nan-Dirk Mulder. These kinds of measures could occur more often in 2021.
At the moment, the best performing industries are the US, Mexico, Japan, and Russia, while the EU, South Africa, and Thailand are still experiencing the drawbacks of oversupply.

In the next decade, poultry meat will continue to be the most important, fastest-growing animal protein.

Nan Dirk Staand

Nan-Dirk Mulder
Senior analyst animal protein of Rabobank

In the long run

For a future further ahead, Nan-Dirk Mulder sees favorable figures for the poultry industry. “The demand for animal proteins will increase by 20% in the next 10 years. The growing world population is responsible for half of that growth. Rising incomes and more prosperity account for the other half. If you go deeper into the different types of proteins, we expect that further fluctuations will gradually take place.”

The most affordable protein

There has been a shift towards chicken consumption over the last 20, 30 years. That will continue. “In the next decade, poultry meat will continue to be the most important, fastest-growing animal protein,” says Nan-Dirk Mulder. A growth of approximately 25% is expected. Chicken is the most affordable protein, not limited by any culture. Muslims aren’t allowed to eat pork, while Hindus don’t eat beef, but everybody eats chicken.

Lowest footprint

In addition, the carbon footprint of an individual protein will increasingly be scrutinized in the future. In that perspective, poultry products, and eggs too, are highly competitive, because, among animal proteins, it is the product with the lowest footprint.

Growth in developing world

“If you dig deeper into these figures, it is important to notice that this growth will take place in the developing world for about 80% and in the developed world for 20%. In the developing world, the focus will be much more on affordability, availability, restaurants and sales, while in the Western world, the focus will be much more on concepts and added value.”

A great outlook

According to Nan-Dirk Mulder, poultry is definitely the most exciting sector and the fastest-growing sector. “In that respect, I believe the outlook is great in the decades to come if poultry companies manage to take full advantage of the opportunities in the industry.”


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