Chicken meat and eggs are the best source of quality protein, and are badly needed by the many millions of people who live in poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia malnutrition (poor nutrition) and under-nutrition (inadequate nutrition) are closely associated with poverty. These conditions affect the immune system. The HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping through countries in SSA stems partly from extreme poverty and, with it, poor nutrition.

Advantages of Chicken Meat and Eggs Compared to Other Animal Proteins:

In developing countries, the diet of people living in cities usually contains more animal protein than that of rural people, mainly because urban people are more prosperous, but also because they generally have access to a wider variety of foods at local markets. In low-income countries, commercially produced chicken meat is well placed to satisfy the demands of a rapidly increasing affluent, middle class who can afford to pay for broiler chickens. Facilities and infrastructure for producing broiler chickens can be established quickly and soon start generating. Not only is chicken meat seen as a healthy meat, but it is also the cheapest of all livestock meats.


Chicken Meat and Eggs: A Valuable Source of Protein and Almost All of the Essential Nutrients

Chicken meat and eggs provide not only high-quality protein, but also important vitamins and minerals. Worldwide, 2 billion people depend on rice as their staple food. Most eat polished white rice stripped of many essential fats, the B complex vitamins and several minerals. Other cereal grains are usually deficient in critical nutrients. For example, maize (corn) is a staple food in some regions, but the niacin it contains is unavailable. Maize consumption without supplements causes pellagra. Invariably the protein content of grains is low and of poor quality. Net protein utilization (NPU) is an index of protein quality, calculated by multiplying protein digestibility by biological value. NPU of grains is generally less than 40. Rice is the exception, with NPU of about 60, but it is low in protein (7.5 percent). NPU of chicken eggs is 87. Generally, cereals lack the most important amino acids for humans – lysine, threonine, the Sulphur-bearing amino acids (methionine and cysteine) and occasionally tryptophan. Eggs and chicken meat are rich in these essential amino acids. Eggs are also high in lutein which lowers the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, particularly among people living in developing countries. In the least developed countries, the projected increase in egg consumption between 2005 and 2015 is 26 percent, compared with only 2.4 percent in the most developed countries. Corresponding annual projections for poultry meat are 2.9 percent and 1.6 percent.

“A chicken provides a meal for the average family without the need for a refrigerator to store left-overs.”


Poultry has a major role to play in developing countries. Produce is relatively inexpensive and widely available. The commercial poultry industry provides employment and is growing rapidly. To produce 1 kg of meat from a commercial broiler chicken only about 1.7 kg of feed is needed. Poultry production has a less detrimental impact on the environment than other livestock, and uses less water. Semi-scavenging backyard indigenous poultry are extremely important in providing income and high-quality protein in the diets of rural people whose traditional foods are typically rich in carbohydrate but low in protein. The vexed question of the cholesterol content of eggs and human health seems to have been exaggerated.