The outlook for the global poultry industry for the second half of 2022 is strong, according to the latest poultry report from Rabobank, despite significant cost pressures and other operational challenges. Global prices keep rising, staying high enough to offset high feed costs.
Global poultry demand is solid, with most countries open after adopting ‘living with Covid’ strategies. This is pushing up poultry demand, while global pressure on spending power and high food prices are also leading consumers toward the lowest-priced meat protein: poultry. “The industry is supported by strong beef prices, with chicken benefiting as a common substitute in many markets,” said Nan-Dirk Mulder, senior analyst, animal protein at Rabobank.
Feed and energy prices are higher than they have been in several years and are expected to remain high into 2023. In addition to lingering Covid-19 impacts, the industry currently faces one of the highest-pressure avian flu (AI) seasons in history. Additionally, the Ukraine crisis directly affects global feed commodity, energy, and fertiliser prices, further challenging industry operations this year. Still, “most markets in Europe, the Americas, the MEA region, and increasingly in Asia, are now operating above the breakeven level,” said Mulder.
Given these circumstances, supply will be tight. Mid-sized and small producers are downscaling in response to higher working capital requirements and risks. According to Mulder, new investment projects have been delayed, given the rise in investment costs, with high steel prices, rising interest rates, high logistical costs, and a tight labour supply. Genetics supply has tightened following Covid-19-related downscaling. In Asia, African swine fever has also had a big impact on the local meat supply, with Thailand and the Philippines especially affected and facing a tight local meat supply.
Rabobank expects global demand to only grow by 0.5% to 1% in 2022 due to supply restrictions. This is significantly below a ‘normal’ year’s growth of around 2.5%. “For lower-income countries, this could lead to food security challenges, which should command attention from governments and the industry,” said Mulder.
In this challenging market context, there will be a significant gap between winners and losers. Companies with strong market power, strong biosecurity, and strong operations – with high efficiency and solid procurement – will likely outpace the market. Traders are expected to benefit, as global trade volumes will rise, with leading countries and companies that do not face AI restrictions also benefiting. These include Brazil, the US, Thailand, and smaller countries like Argentina, Chile, and Turkey.