In recent years, the outbreak of avian influenza (AI), locally known as “bird flu” has crippled the South African poultry industry where more than 300 000 birds were forced to be culled due to the rapid spread of the virus.
This pandemic has left a huge gap between the supply and demand for chicken as consumption increases year on year.
As part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which provides duty-free market access to the United States and European
Union for qualifying African states, including South Africa, the US alone exports 65 000 tons of chicken a year to our shores.
Developed countries such as the US and the EU mainly consume white meat (breast) and export on the bone portions such as leg/thigh and wings (brown meat) at far below market cost.
Local poultry producers are calling on government to intervene and have criticised the “dumping” of cheap chicken imports from the US, Brazil and the EU as locally produced livestock cannot compete with the prices of imported chickens.
In the world of business, supermarket giants such as Pick n Pay, Shoprite Checkers, Woolworths, Nando’s and Spar are being put under pressure to “source local”. Nando’s sources locally ensure that they serve fresh chicken daily whereas Pick n Pay import only 3% of their poultry products. Shoprite Checkers and Woolworths said that 97% and 95% respectively, of the chicken it sold was sourced locally while Spar representatives said that the retailer imported over 21% of its poultry products in 2017, up from 14% in 2016.
The situation South Africa faces is not an easy one to overcome as we export a small quantity of our chickens to other African markets Namibia and Zambia which now, have started to ban South African imports.
Challenges Faced By Poultry Farmers
• Issues related to water in terms of both quality and quantity.
• High input costs as the price of maize has been affected by the drought and municipalities adding pressure with electricity premium spikes.
• Safety of poultry products for human consumption in terms of disease outbreaks.
• Surge in imports
Despite the situation faced, South Africa needs to export a certain of its produce to keep the industry from collapsing. According to BusinessDay, Qatar had responded positively. Kuwait had agreed to the importation of processed poultry products from SA, and negotiations were being held for a health certificate.
Part 2 of this article will published in the coming week.