Fast-food chicken growing in popularity

Chicken has become the second most popular item in Australian Quick service restaurants (QSR), approaching burger – a traditional fast food leader, according to research by The NPD Group. Over the last three years, QSR chicken has increased 2.8 % in traffic while the QSR burger increased by 1.6 %. The whole foodservice industry was able to grow only by 0.5 % since 2017, and the entire QSR channel grew 0.8 % in a period from October 2017 till September 2019.

Millennial consumers (those aged from 18 to 34 years old) are the main buyers and consume 42 per cent of chicken servings in the foodservice industry. “Chicken is getting even more attention from Millennials who have increased their share of visits to QSR Chicken outlets by 4.6 per cent above any other age group in the last three years, – explains Seton Leung, head of Australia Foodservice, The NPD Group Australia.

READ MORE: Fast food flagged as target for waste eating system

Millennials are quite sensitive to prices and feel the economy stagnation more strongly than others. Instead of a beef burger with French fries, they are ordering chicken wings or nuggets”. The average eater cheque of QSR chicken visit is $9.38 and increased by 1.5 per cent in the last three years (In comparison, QSR Burger average cheque has risen by 2.7 per cent).

QSR Chicken has always sold more chicken than any other restaurant or foodservice outlet: it has generated 36.6% of chicken servings consumption in the foodservice industry, commanding 8.4% of foodservice visits. Chicken consumption is most likely to happen during the main meal, with more than 1 in 2 servings of chicken going to lunch, while dinner generates 40% orders (in a year October 2018 – September 2019).

Consumers see chicken as a healthier and lighter option than beef because of a widespread belief that red meat has high cholesterol levels, and doctors suggest that consumers should limit red meat consumption to a few meals a week. According to The NPD Group, 8.8 per cent of customers mentioned that they had chosen the QSR chicken outlet because it offers healthy options compared to 7.5 per cent of the total occasions in the foodservice industry.

Families with kids are ordering chicken more often. Consumption by families in QSR grew 14 per cent compared to a year ago. Kids are key influencers on where the family is going to have lunch or dinner. They often choose chicken QSR because fried chicken is easy to share and served alongside a variety of condiments like BBQ or mustard sauces . Parents usually don’t mind the higher price, according to The NPD Group, and coupled with the kids’ influence, are two main motivations to visit chicken QSR.

QSR chicken operators have been effectively targeting families with group bundle promotions for most of 2019. In addition to special promotions, value packs and seasonal menu items have helped operators to generate traffic. Thirty-seven per cent of QSR Chicken consumers mentioned that they utilised some form of deal in their visits, compared to 27 per cent of deal-led consumers in the food service industry.

For most of 2019, QSR chicken operators had been using different promotions to target clients and specifically families. Value packs, seasonal menu items, and special offers have helped operators to generate traffic: 37 per cent of QSR Chicken consumers mentioned that they utilised some form of deal in their visits, compared to 27 per cent of deal-led consumers in the foodservice industry.

The top five chicken dishes (ranked by servings share of total chicken dishes) in QSR (October 2018-September 2019) are:

  1. Burger/Sandwiches (46 per cent)
  2. Nuggets/Strips (17 per cent)
  3. Wraps (14 per cent)
  4. Fried Chicken Pieces (9 per cent)
  5. Grilled/Roast Chicken (8 per cent)

Another reason why Millennials and other consumers are switching to chicken is their concern about climate change. “This generation sees climate change as their challenge and believe that the impact of each individual counts towards the societal whole, believes Seton Leung. – Chicken has a much lower carbon footprint and requires ten times less energy and resources in production than beef”. According to the NPD Group, beef consumption by Millennials has fallen by -2.3 per cent in the last three years.

From chicken feathers to fire retardant

Researchers at the University of Auckland have developed a way to turn chicken feathers into a high-performing fire retardant

Chicken is a popular source of protein in most parts of the world and millions of chickens are produced each year  to eat.

Billions of chicken feathers are produced by the poultry industry, most of which end up in the incinerator or landfill. Chicken feathers are, in short, an international waste problem.

However, Distinguished Professor Debes Bhattacharyya of the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering has found a way to use chicken feathers as a base for a fire retardant, one that is safer than many fire retardants, cheaper to produce, and solves an international waste problem at the same time.

“People pay to get rid of chicken feathers,” he said.

Chicken feathers are made of a keratinous material that is found in the hair, wool, horns and hooves of mammals. They are also naturally occurring flame inhibitors.

Fire retardants are added to industrial and consumer products such as furniture, textiles, electronics, even Christmas trees, as well as building products such as insulation.

Traditionally ,halogen compounds were added to create flame-retardant material, but while they were effective they were highly toxic. “They might have saved you from death by burning, but have exposed people to many more effects that are detrimental to health.

“Furthermore, as a result of the environmental long life and bioaccumulation, traces of the compounds have been detected in everything from household dust to breast milk, causing hormone-disrupting effects,” says Dr Bhattacharyya.

As a result there has been a global shift away from halogenic retardants and toward other types of retardants among which ammonium polyphosphate (APP) is the most prominent. However, as they are expensive to produce there is an increasing demand for alternatives.

Dr Bhattacharyya and his team have previously shown that chemically modified wool fibres ‑ also made of keratin ‑ can also be used as an effective retardant. This could potentially provide a revenue stream for low-grade wool in an era when the price of and demand for wool have declined.

They more recently turned to chicken feathers as an alternative source of keratinous fibres, which are even cheaper and in many countries, more of a waste problem.

The team has developed a rapid and simple way to chemically modify the keratinous fibres of both wool and chicken feathers, and convert them into a flame retardant powder that can be added to polymeric materials.

The powder enhances the fire-retardancy of the polymer by accelerating char formation, the solid material produced in the initial stages of combustion, and which inhibits combustion.

Moreover, standard fire retardants need to be added in high concentrations which can reduce strength as a result, “but what we’re showing is that we can optimise the process so that this fire retardant removes this disadvantage of inferior mechanical performance compared to current fire retardants,” says Dr Bhattacharyya.

“We also assessed this from a commercial perspective and have been able to show that the cost around this compound is up to a third lower than the existing standard compounds used as a fire retardant.

“So it’s a perfect fire retardant material, passes most of the fire retardant standards, and can be used with polymeric materials.”

He acknowledges that while the method has so far been proven in the lab, producing the keratinous fibre-based product at a large scale and ensuring it is compatible with existing manufacturing processes, will need private or public investment.

However, initial results are very promising and have attracted the interests of several multi-national companies.

“Our invention, whose intellectual property rights are protected, has been tested to show that it could be a direct replacement for APP, the predominant existing product.”


Researchers targeting chicken-related food poisoning

Deakin University scientists are working on a way to eradicate a bacteria in chickens that’s responsible for more than a million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year.

More than four million Australians suffer from food poisoning each year, with the Campylobacter pathogen responsible for over a quarter of these cases. There are many sources of Campylobacter, with a key one being raw chicken meat.

Two molecular biologists from Deakin’s School of Medicine, Dr Tamsyn Crowley and Dr Sarah Shigdar, have been awarded a Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation grant, valued at more than $1 million, to try to reduce Campylobacter from chickens.

Over the next three years, the two will investigate new ways to suppress the growth of Campylobacter in chickens prior to processing, and are confident they can find a solution.

Most often found in chicken, Campylobacter are one of the four most common causes of food poisoning, along with Salmonella, E. Coli and Listeria. Sufferers experience gastroenteritis symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting.

The project leader, Dr Crowley, said that while more than four million Australians were reported to suffer food poisoning each year from various pathogens, the actual number was likely to be much higher as many milder cases are never reported.

“Our research will focus on using nanotechnology to kill Campylobacter before it can cause problems in humans,” Dr Crowley said.

“We will be looking at very small molecules that can be used to bind substances to specifically target bacterial growth. It doesn’t matter exactly how the growth is suppressed, whether we paralyse the bacteria or prevent them from absorbing nutrients, or through some other means. This leaves us many possibilities to achieve our goal.”

Dr Crowley said once the most suitable molecule has been identified, researchers could focus on devising the best way to deliver these into the poultry, either through water or food, which will take place in the few days before the chickens are processed.


Ingham Australia expansion to bring 850 new jobs to SA

Chicken producer Ingham Australia has announced a huge $275 million expansion of its South Australian business which will bring 850 new jobs to the state.

As the Weekly Times reports, the new jobs are expected to include 385 direct positions with Ingham, and 465 jobs with private contractors. On top of that, the construction phase of the expansion will bring 700 jobs to SA.

The expansion, which will double the company’s capacity, will take in 15 separate sites including Bolivar, Edinburgh Parks, Yumali, Murray Bridge and Dry Creek in Adelaide’s north.

As the ABC reports, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill welcomed the news

“Food production is a growing sector of our state’s economy and we are supplying the business conditions that make investing here a wise choice,” he said.

“This expansion will create hundreds of new direct and indirect jobs for South Australians with a focus on two key areas — northern Adelaide and the Murraylands.”

The Government is chipping in $3.7 million to the project. This includes $2.8 million from the Regional Development Fund and $900,000 from Investment Attraction South Australia.

According to AAP, Ingham chief executive Mick McMahon pointed out that workers who will lose their jobs following the upcoming closure of Holden’s plant in Elizabeth will be well placed to find work with Inghams.

“Car industry manufacturing skills are very relevant to our processing plants and some of our best and most productive employees have in fact had good training in the car industry,” McMahon said.

“Our plant manager at Bolivar has come from Holden, as one example. Many of the jobs will be processing, they’ll be trades in the plant.”

Chicken processing plant fined $30,000 for waste overflow

Chicken processing plant Supreme Poultry and Chickens has been issued a $30,000 fine by the NSW EPA for having overflowing effluent ponds at its Mangrove Mountain premises.

The EPA inspected the premises on 14 January 2016 and observed that the effluent ponds were full and overflowing, the irrigation areas were not managed in a competent manner, and parts of the waste water management system were not operating adequately.

EPA Hunter Manager, Adam Gilligan, said the EPA considers the multiple breaches to be serious, and the latest evidence of the company’s failure to comply with environmental requirements at its various premises.

“These latest non-compliances follow the February 2016 fines for non-compliance at Supreme Poultry’s Shanes Park (Sydney) premises,” Gilligan said.

“The EPA has informed Supreme Poultry that it requires full compliance with all EPL conditions at all times and that significant fines and criminal penalties can be issued for non-compliance with license conditions.

“The EPA has advised Supreme Poultry that any further contraventions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 may result in the instigation of legal proceedings.”


Image: Daily Telegraph

Tocal College selling eggs to Pace as free range becomes defined

A NSW government-linked farm is supplying “free range” eggs to the country’s biggest egg producer, a company that has played a critical role in lobbying efforts to weaken labelling standards.

The Department of Primary Industries-run Tocal College has signed a 10-year contract with Pace Farms to supply it with eggs from an operation with 70,000 hens on a 15-hectare property near Newcastle.

The business contract has sparked fears the government’s efforts to help develop a national, legally binding free range standard – most likely to be decided on Thursday – has been undermined by industrial egg producers.

Darren Bayley, the principal of Tocal College, said the farm met the Model Code of Practice, which says stocking densities can go beyond 1500 hens per hectare if they are regularly rotated.
He said the birds were rotated through clean, shaded paddocks for a minimum of eight hours a day, and not one dollar from the sale of the eggs went to the Department of Primary Industries.

“All of our eggs go to Pace Farms. We looked at the different providers and Pace had an excellent reputation. We’ve found Pace to be good to deal with. We’re proud of our enterprise, our layout and set up,” he said.

The managing director of Pace Farms is Frank Pace, who is a director of the Australian Egg Corporation Limited. The AECL at one stage attempted to secure a “free range” certification trademark that set the stocking density at 20,000 hens per hectare.

Consumer group Choice said the industry’s definition meant hens would never have to go outside, and has instead proposed: “Where most of the birds actually go outside regularly, have room to move comfortably when outdoors, and have room to move comfortably inside the barn.”

More than 40 hospitalised after chlorine exposure

A suspected faulty water pipe led to more than 40 workers from the Baiada Poultry factory in Beresfield being hospitalised on Monday after they were exposed to chlorine dioxide.

The Environmental Protection Authority, the meat packers union and Baiada have all launched investigations into the cause of the exposure, believed to have occurred after a fault with the system used to keep the factory’s assembly line clean.

It is understood to have caused workers to be sprayed with the chlorine solution, leading to complaints of nausea, irritated throats and eyes, and breathing difficulties.

More than 200 employees at the factory were evacuated at about 8.30am after workers reacted to the chemical, and 43 were transported to three hospitals across the Hunter.

Paramedics and Fire and Rescue both attended the factory, treating a number of workers at the site.

Inspector Brett Crotty from Fire and Rescue NSW said the cause of the exposure was a “chlorine solution used to disinfect the assembly line and keep everything clean”.

“There’s one tank with chlorine, and one tank with water, they both go through a pipe and mix together to dilute the chlorine, then they’re sprayed over the assembly line,” he said.

“There has been either a blockage or a fault in the water tank [which has] meant that chlorine has sprayed out over the assembly line.

“It wouldn’t have been for a long time, you know pretty quick if you come into contact with a straight disinfectant.”

Baiada could not confirm how many staff were affected or what had caused the malfunction, a spokesman saying that staff were being “monitored”.

“Our concern is for the well-being of our staff, and we will be conducting a thorough investigation of the cause of the leak,” the spokesman said.

“In the coming days we will be able to provide more information on what has occurred.”

Unaffected staff returned to work after the site was declared safe.

The Environmental Protection Authority visited the site after the evacuation, and has since requested a detailed incident report from Baiada as part of its investigation into the incident.

A spokesperson confirmed that chlorine dioxide was the chemical that leaked at the Beresfield plant.

“Once the site was declared safe by NSW Fire and Rescue HAZMAT crews, EPA officers carried out an inspection of the premises to determine the extent of environmental impacts,” the spokesperson said.

“No offsite impacts were identified.”

Hunter New England Health said all 43 workers, who were taken to Calvary Mater, Maitland and John Hunter hospitals, were in a stable condition.

By about 4.30pm 33 of them were still hospitalised.

A spokeswoman for health saying their status was being “reviewed” and could not confirm whether any would stay overnight.

Neighbours said they did not hear an alarm prior to the evacuation and were not notified by anyone from Baiada of the chemical leak, which is being investigated by the Environment Protection Authority.

On Monday afternoon, the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union said that its officers were also on site “investigating the incident”.

Grant Courtney from the union said union officers had been at the site on Monday, and would conduct interviews with staff on Tuesday.

“We’ll be speaking with them to find out firsthand what happened,” Mr Courtney said.

“At the moment our concern is our member’s health.”

He said the union had been unable to confirm a number of details from the company, including how many people had been hospitalised.

“All they have said is that they have complied with their health and safety obligations, but we’ll be conducting our own investigations,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, chlorine dioxide can be used as a disinfectant agent or for treating water.

It exists as a gas at room temperature but can become explosive when its concentration in the air is greater than 10 per cent.

Deadline looms for Baiada workers

The Fair Work Ombudsman is urging workers who believe they may have been underpaid by labour hire contractors for work at Baiada poultry processing plants this year to lodge their claims before a December 31 deadline.

Under a compliance partnership with the Fair Work Ombudsman signed in October, Baiada agreed to rectify any underpayment of wages by its labour hire contractors from January 1 this year.

However, the agreement only applies to workers who lodge claims before the end of the year.

Baiada has set aside $500,000 to reimburse the workers, with any funds remaining to be distributed to various nominated charities.

Baiada has also agreed to make the back-payments and to continue to implement a range of changes as part of its commitment to work with the Fair Work Ombudsman to stamp out unlawful practices by its contractors at its NSW worksites.

Chicken without the blood and guts or CO2

According to Abigail Klein Leichman, associate editor at ISRAEL21c, an Israeli foundation is first in the world to research mass production of cultured chicken breast, a real meat product starting from a single cell of a real bird.

Israel’s Modern Agriculture Foundation (MAF) has joined the quest to mass-produce cultured meat, launching the only such project to concentrate on chicken — the second most popular meat on the planet next to pork. Every day, 23 million chickens are killed for food in the United States alone, wrote Leichman.

“We are a group of caring individuals who came to the conclusion that what the world needs urgently, in terms of helping both the environment and animals, is for everybody to go vegan,” says MAF cofounder Shir Friedman, “but that’s not realistic. So when we heard about the idea of cultured meat, we realized this is a way to reduce harm to animals and the environment while giving people the meat they want to eat.”

The all-volunteer nonprofit organisation was founded in March last year, and by January launched the world’s first feasibility study to determine the cost, timetable and resources to create commercial cultured chicken breast.

That privately funded study, headed by Prof. Amit Gefen at Tel Aviv University, is to be completed by January 2016.

“We are targeting the development of a tissue-engineered chicken breast, which is a popular choice for a main course in many cultures and countries, to test feasibility of the concept and, in particular, to identify gaps in knowledge and challenges on the route to commercial production,” said Gefen, who hopes to develop a meat free of animal tissues or byproducts.

“Researchers and entrepreneurs who will take part in our project will help redesign the food industry and move it forward into a cleaner, healthier and environmentally friendly world,” she says. “Our main goal is to hasten the day when cultured meat is sold in stores. The sooner this day comes, the less damage our planet will suffer.”

Leichman wrote that cultured meat production requires between seven and 45 per cent less energy, 90 per cent less fresh water and 99 per cent less land, and would result in 80 to 90 per cent less greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere.

“If 2.5 billion people join us in eating only cultured meat by 2050, we get all those resources back. It’s truly a magic solution,” Friedman told ISRAEL21c.

One of the MAF’s biggest challenges is to convince people that cultured meat is not “Frankenfood” and involves no genetic engineering. It is not a meat substitute, but 100 per cent meat. When produced on a mass scale, cultured meat won’t be made in a lab but in a factory just like any other processed food from ketchup to cornflakes.

Cultured meat production begins by incubating stem cells in a nutrient-rich medium that helps the cells grow and divide. Scaffolds and other technological aids help the cells form a thin layer of muscle tissue, a.k.a. meat.

“We are simply letting biology do its thing, letting cells create the muscle tissue they know how to create. The meat will be identical in taste and flavor and ingredients to meat from an animal — if anything, healthier because we can control the amount of cholesterol and fat,” says Friedman. “It will be a very sustainable way to feed the planet.”

See the original story here

Pitango Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with Rice Meal Pot

Product Name: Pitango Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with Rice Meal Pot

Product Manufacturer: Pitango Pty Ltd

Launch date: October 2015

Ingredients: Water, Potato 15%, Free Range Chicken 11%, Basmati Rice 9%, Onion, Tomato (Diced & Paste) (Tomato, Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid)), Coconut Cream 2.6% (Vegetable Gums (407,
412, 415)), Canola Oil, Ginger, Garlic, Sugar, Salt, Jalapeno, Worcestershire Sauce (Contains Gluten, Fish), Corn Starch, Spices (Chilli 0.07%), Lemon Juice.

Shelf Life: 30 Days

Packaging: Pot

Country of origin: New Zealand

Brand Website:

Describe the product: The Pitango Meal Pots for One consist of three flavourful and globally inspired meals pots that are perfect for busy lunches on the go– simply heat in the microwave, add a fork, and enjoy. 
The Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with Rice is produced with free range chicken and potato which are combined in a spicy Sri Lankan style coconut curry with basmati rice. 
The Meal Pots for one are now available in the chiller section of Woolworth stores nationally and are packaged in Pitango’ s new specially designed meal pots. RRP $5.00 for 300g.

Contact Email:

Laid-to-order free range eggs

CM Murphy is barely keeping up with orders for his seriously free-range eggs. With his unique, self-designed free-range production platform, he has chefs and restauranteurs paying attention.

Three years into his free-range egg business, Murphy’s Rock Chic Eggs has won some praise in industry circles and amongst consumers alike for their taste, quality & freshness.

 “Back in the mid-90s, not too many people took notice or questioned free-range, sustainable farming or where their eggs, meat or otherwise came from. When I re-entered the poultry business back in 2012, I created my own system that we call seriously free-range,” said Murphy.

“I found that I could not find any certifying bodies that fulfilled the needs of the hens, so I created my own system. Free-range hen numbers should be determined by inspection where the hen’s welfare is number one; being inspected and approved on its merits based on whether it’s a movable fan, rain fall, soil types and pasture management procedures”.

The “laid-to-order” Rock Chic Eggs are packed in the paddock and delivered at a consistent room temperature almost straight away. Customers receive the eggs a mere 12 to 48 hours after the eggs are laid in a true paddock-to-plate delivery schedule.

Cleavers expands Paleo range into Coles

Cleavers has added two new sausage flavours and a beef burger to supermarket shelves following the success of the Paleo Beef Sausage and high consumer demand.

Expanding the availability of the Paleo range to sell in Coles and Woolworths, Cleavers has created preservative free, grain free and soy free products using 100 per cent Australian meat containing natural ingredients.

Cleavers ambassador and Paleo advocate Pete Evans said “Cleaver’s Paleo range answers the food prayers of many, including health lovers who want themselves and their families to still enjoy the deliciousness of a great Aussie barbeque, without sacrificing quality or taste.”

The range is suitable for consumers who enjoy pure food products and follows the Paleo lifestyle without sacrificing the flavour of a burger or a sausage.