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  • Writer's pictureO.P. Singh

Chicken Meat Industry Fast Adapting to Changing Times

The historic existence of Indian poultry industry for the last 50 years has not only created many milestones but also evolved as a major rural employment generator producing the ultimate protein. Poultry meat production increased from 3.73 million tons in 2014 to 8.80 million tonnes in 2020-2021(BAHS, 2021). While egg production increased from 82.93 billion in 2015-16 to 122.05 billion in 2020-21 (Dept. of DAHD Annual report 2021-22). The total poultry population in the country was 851.81 million (including backyard poultry) as of 2019, registering an increase of 16.8% in the total poultry.

Poultry development is one of the most flexible sectors in the country, fast adapting itself to the changing bio security, health and food safety needs. The total commercial poultry in the country is 534.74 million as of 2019, which is an increase of 4.5% over the previous census.

Raw material cost has scaled up around 40%. The average rate of interest on capital cost, farming and feed model is above 8%. Feed raw material availability and high-end technology in feed and feed ingredient production need to be focused for feed and production cost reduction.

Capital cost for feed production and farming technology adoption is also an additional burden that is escalating the cost of production; absence of infrastructure for distribution of livestock is probably the most expensive in India in comparison with the world average. Therefore, a joint response along with the government needs specialized attention. Although skilled manpower is a great shortage in the industry but it is still affordable comparatively towards the standard, but skill cost is projected to grow average by 15% per year. Regulatory support is required to make the product available throughout the year, every season, despite festivities and religious obstruction.

It is glaring to understand how India is transiting towards non vegetarian food, given that more than 70% of the population is non vegetarian. However, states like Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, & Gujarat need a systemic approach from the industry to build a robust and favourable transition towards non vegetarian food.

Indications are extremely positive; only persuasive efforts can drive the social structure favourably towards poultry industry. States like J&K, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala & Karnataka are positively placed with their dominating non vegetarian population who are looking for regionalized choices to enhance poultry protein consumption provided their choices are met comprehensively. Remarkably non vegetarian consumption is equally distributed between female and male population countrywide.

India’s growing appetite for meat clearly indicates the opportunities and challenges towards a big draw. As per data, poultry meat consumption in 2020 onwards is beyond 4 million tonnes and similarly the domestic consumers’ wallet share towards food is ever increasing up to 35% of total expenditure outflow amongst the mass, despite India being a growing economy. In the urban sector, expenditure is done up to 43% towards food, whereas among below poverty line in the rural segment, 57% outflow goes to food. We need to respond towards these challenges on behalf of the industry ensuring adoption of poultry meat in the regular food basket.

Inclusion of the rural mass which is the largest population in the country based on their affordability have to be catered strategically by the industry. To address the market on priority it is also evident that rural adults across India spend only 10% on animal protein whereas the urban adults spend only 11 % on animal protein. Thereby demand of rural areas needs to be stimulated favourably by the poultry industry. Consumption volume of poultry meat in India has an ever increasing pattern with the largest consumption data of 4.1 million tonnes but forecasted to accelerate way beyond.

Although the worldwide total consumption of poultry meat by 2021 has reached 133 million tonnes but the Indian social fabric will drive ever increasing pattern up to 41% of all the protein meat by 2030. The increase in poultry meat is projected to account for over half of additional animal protein availability in the coming decade.

The challenging points are, how do we motivate and educate the transition with much categorized response.

Challenges are well described under my assumption:

  1. Affordability and cost comparison, rural vs. urban

  2. Supply chain and logistics

  3. Product life cycle management - storage & warehouse setup – such infrastructure will help to stabilize the market in terms of fluctuations

  4. Religion and vegetarianism

  5. Environmental challenges

  6. International trade compatibility

  7. Scale of production

  8. Cost of capital

  9. Regulatory support

  10. Skilled manpower/technical expertise

  11. Over dominance of middleman – development of reliable and stable market chain round the year is a must

  12. NGO’s intervention motivated by other countries

Overview of Opportunities for sustainable growth:

  1. Growth of consumption

  2. International trade

  3. Protein sufficiency to the nation

  4. Rural market development and rural employment generation

    1. About 30% of total population comes from urban pocket and 70% belong to rural area.

    2. The availability of poultry meat and eggs, creating a vast marketing opportunity in the rural sector.

    3. Fulfiling demand of healthy, convenient foods at economical prices is the key

  5. Logistics & distribution network and independent venture for food

  6. Product versatility can help to grow the industry - adding value to poultry products

  7. Meritorious product and qualitative education to mass

  8. Institutionalization of industry

It is also important to reframe our situation in order to capture consumer attention & adopt a sustainable agenda for improvement:

  1. Transparency should take the lead in sustainability

  2. Capture consumption patterns and trends in food purchasing behaviour

  3. Accelerating digital connection with consumers can be more effective

  4. Drive-through access, delivery & digital ordering are a must (Post CPVID scenario).

  5. Keep chicken as a protein on the centre of the plate for the modern consumer who is surrounded by choices

  6. Food safety and nutritive value supporting health

It is urgent to map the ongoing customer journeys which are driving the chicken protein consumption & will continue to drive the changing habits overall.

The global fast food market size is valued at about 600 billion dollars and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.6 % till 2030. The rise in customers’ spending and the growing influence of convenience food, food delivery & other influencing applications will be the major factors to enhance market growth in India.

Factors such as affordability, availability and vast consumer choices and everlasting food education will enhance and enrich the consumer fabric for protein. The demand for the fast-food industry in the region, India, will be approximately 250 billion dollars by 2030. Interestingly QSR share seems to be growing with the help of drivers like Dominos, KFC, Pizza Hut & McDonald’s with their large number of outlets and customized responses and recipes in the Indian mass.

India’s eating out market, valued at approximately 45 thousand crores, has a growth plan of 20-25%, ensuring value proposition, designer recipes as well as vibrant young generation.

Institutions like the railways, army, corporate dining, food sector, branded fine dining restaurants, quick service restaurants & mobile carts are continually driving the poultry protein consumption which puts Indian poultry industry at restructuring model to meet the challenges. Value addition, variable customer choices, chicken meat regional versatility and western motivated trends are pointers to examine in order to best archetype of poultry industry.

Although we have mastered poultry protein production greatly but value proposition, cost of production remains the success denominators in the future. We must ensure relevant CAPEX deployment in desirable areas and build a very transparent model of food production and food delivery by building enough capability of processing setup which can suit not only the most dynamic food perspective in India but also can evolve sustainability.


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