Fast facts

Amount of meat consumed steady

  • Over the past 40 years, the amount of meat consumed has remained relatively stable at around 110kg/carcase weight/year per person.

Substantial change in meat choice

  • While the amount of meat consumed in Australia has remained fairly constant, there has been a substantial change in the relative proportion of the different types of meats consumed. In particular, there has been a four-fold increase in consumption of poultry, a doubling of pork and halving of lamb consumed.
  • In the 1970s, about 80% of meat consumed was either beef or sheepmeat (including lamb and mutton). Today, beef and sheepmeat (mainly as lamb) represent less than 50% of meat consumed, with chicken representing more than 40% of meat consumption, pork about a quarter, beef a third and lamb around 10% of total meat consumption.

About the data

Apparent consumption data is provided by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Food Balance Sheets and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ (ABARES) commodity statistics (see figure 1).

While these data sets are useful for capturing trends, they are not accurate measures of the amount of meat consumed as they tend to overestimate consumption – they do not account for waste, non-human consumption such as pet food and the impact of global meat supplies.

The latter is particularly important for export commodities such as Australian beef and lamb of which over 65% and 50% are exported, respectively. For instance, in 1977 beef consumption in Australia was reported as 70kg/year per capita. However, during this period a high volume of global beef production combined with a global economic downturn resulted in an oversupply of beef in Australia and this additional supply of beef was most likely used for non-human purposes, such as pet food.

Chicken and pork are not export commodities in Australia. Poultry (mainly chicken) is produced and consumed in Australia. Fresh pork is produced in Australia, while a large proportion of processed pork products are imported.

Annual total per capita meat consumption (per kg/carcase weight/year) 1970 – 2013 (ABARE 2014)

Meat consumption per capita

Reference

ABARES 2014. Agricultural commodity statistics 2014. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, December, Canberra (Accessed at 4 September, 2015: http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/agcstd9abcc002/agcstd9abcc0022014/ACS_2014_1.0.0.pdf