WASHINGTON –During this decade, 60% of the increased world demand for animal protein will be for poultry, according to a report from GIRA, an international meat consultancy. Poultry will overtake pork as the world’s most popular meat by 2020, the report claimed.

According to the March National Chicken Council’s, the report forecast the demand for animal protein would grow by 40 million metric tons in the next 10 years, about 14% of the current total, with about 24 million tons of the increase consisting of poultry meat. The category will grow at twice the rate of pork, which is now the most popular animal protein around the world.

One of the main drivers of growth is the generally lower consumer price of poultry compared to beef and pork, GIRA stated, especially as the world recovers from its economic slump. Consultants said their forecast for growth in poultry is higher than previously estimated as consumers seek more economical protein.

“After all the turmoil of 2008, we are now seeing new growth in the global economy,” said Richard Brown, one author of the report. “But the recovery is weak and there are questions about whether it will be sustained.”

The strongest growth in the poultry sector will be seen in the US, South America, Russia, the Middle East and China, according to the report. Growth in the US is being driven by population growth; the average American already eats twice as much poultry as the world average, the report stated.

Over the next 10 years, the US will add 3.3 million metric tons of poultry meat production to more than 22.7 million tons, with exports growing from just under 3 million metric tons this year to 3.67 million in 2020. However, Brazil, could be shipping more than five million metric tons of poultry meat by 2020, the report said. “The Brazilians think in term of scale, they have a supportive government and have the feed grain production to go with it,” Brown concluded.