WASHINGTON – Chicken meat production in Canada is forecast to climb 3 percent above estimates for 2018 on solid demand from retail and foodservice segments, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Dept. of Agriculture reported.

Chicken meat includes meat from broilers, layers, hybrids, domestic breeds, spent hens and ex-breeding stock.

FAS forecasts Canadian chicken meat production in 2019 to reach 1.33 million metric tons. Estimates for 2018 chicken meat production are 1.295 million metric tons driven by stronger-than-expected growth. The Canadian poultry industry “...responded to sustained strong demand from a consumer population that is increasingly diverse, economically strong and seeking comparative cost savings relative to other proteins,” FAS said. “2018 chicken meat sector growth is expected to reach nearly 5 percent, a level not seen since the 1990s.”

FAS noted that per capita chicken meat consumption had been relatively flat for almost 15 years before gaining momentum in 2014. For 2019, FAS forecasted per capita consumption levels to rise again, up to 36.5 kg from an estimated level of 36.2 kg in 2018.

“This recent consumption pattern reflects limited and higher-priced red meat supplies driving consumers towards abundantly available and competitively priced chicken,” according to FAS.

Canadian consumers tend to favor white meat such as breasts and wings, FAS noted. Wings are popular during the winter hockey season, while fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts are popular for barbecuing and among foodservice operations.

Fresh boneless skinless breasts are the most expensive cut of chicken meat, while leg quarters traditionally have been the least expensive chicken cuts in groceries. However, the rising popularity of ethnic cuisines is providing tailwinds for leg quarter retail prices which have risen steadily in the past several years. Another price driver is consumer price sensitivity and demand, FAS reported.