About 30% of the chickens consumed in South Africa are imported, and a large portion of them enter the country illegally, according to South African Poultry Association (Sapa) General Manager Izaak Breitenbach.
Breitenbach, who was commenting on the country’s Poultry Masterplan which has been praised by the government, told Vutivi News that he was still concerned about the illegal importation of chickens which was decimating the industry.
Dumped chicken meat is often sold by an importer at a much lower price in South Africa compared to the prices that would be paid in the country of their origin.
“As a result, the importers increase the freight cost and do not pay the duties imposed on the product, and chickens come into the market in that illegal manner,” he said.
“The problem with this is that you have a small-scale farmer, for example, who will spend R26 to rear a chicken, or a kilogram of meat. Then you have the illegal importer who sells it at an even lower price, and this means that the small-scale farmer cannot compete, leaving him exposed to bankruptcy.”
Breitenbach also said that about 73% of small-scale poultry farmers had stopped farming.
“The only way we can create a market is to take imports out of the picture and let local producers produce,” he said.
“Europe produces a lot of meat and they export it to South Africa. We need to stop the illegal trade in order to let small farmers and big farmers to grow.”
Breitenbach said his association had taken steps urgently address the matter.
“We have applied for anti-dumping duties against five countries,” he said.
“Brazil and four other European countries are dumping their products in South Africa, and we have asked the Minister of Trade and Industry to impose anti-dumping duties against these countries and this is part of the Poultry Masterplan.”
Another concern was that South Africa only exported only 0.5% of its total poultry production.
“Europe exports 7% of our poultry, and Brazil and America exports under 1%,” he said.
“So, they keep our chickens out of their borders so that we cannot export poultry to them, but they dump their excess stock in South Africa. Because of this they take up most of the market so that there is no market left for small-scale or large-scale poultry producers to grow.”
Also, he accused the countries of using other methods to avoid importing South African poultry.
“They will inform us that there is a disease in our country that prevents them from exporting, or that they do not like the food safety.
“It gets to the point where they do not offload the poultry that we export, resulting in major losses for the sector locally, and these are just some of the ways that they frustrate our export endeavours,” he told Vutivi News.
The Poultry Masterplan was published in 2019. President Cyril Ramaphosa hailed it as a big win for the economy during his State of Nation Address last month.
He said the plan had seen industry invest R800-million to upgrade production, and the country now produced an additional one million chickens every week.
Breitenbach said he was not opposed to the plan if it was successfully implemented.
“We will not only get the chicken industry to grow… We will also see retailers and packaging suppliers grow, and that will give us massive economic growth in the industry, as poultry is the second biggest agriculture industry,” he said.
Also, around 130,000 people could be employed along the value chain. But if imports were stopped, this number could increase by tens of thousands, Breitenbach said.
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