Poultry meat and eggs are the largest source of animal protein in the human diet worldwide. These are the benefits of decades of poultry research investments that were aimed at developing fast-growing strains, a better understanding of nutrient metabolism and utilization, and the effects of those nutrients on gene expression. The South African poultry industry has advanced alongside global trends in most developed countries. The industry is dominated by a few fully integrated large commercial producers, and a high volume of small-scale producers, either as contract growers or individual producers supplying solely the informal market. Currently, the poultry industry is battling to remain competitive, owing to tons of imported dark chicken meat being dumped in this market by other countries at prices below the cost of production locally. This has had negative consequences on producers, big and small, and on the employment rate. Disease outbreaks, welfare regulations, food safety, house environment and a number of issues relating to nutrition and feeding are among current and future challenges to the poultry industry, particularly the small-scale segment. With urbanization escalating, land availability and accessibility for intensive poultry rearing, and crop production for feed will be a challenge. Simultaneously, although poultry has the lowest carbon and water footprint, global warming is likely to affect feed quality and quantity, increasing feed and energy costs, thereby influencing food security. In future, maize and soybean meal on a worldwide basis will remain the major ingredients in poultry diets, although research on feedstuffs for partial replacement of these two will still be relevant, more so for home mixers. Focus on poultry science education and training, research and extension partnerships between poultry scientists and veterinarians also needs serious attention. Lack of collaboration between the private and public sectors, and lack of innovative ways to articulate concerns from producers and consumers to policy makers remain barriers to technological adoption. This review adopts poultry in sole reference to chickens.