If South Africa does not produce enough poultry, there will be a supply shortage which will have an impact on both small-scale farmers and the consumer, according to SA Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE) CEO Paul Matthew. AMIE has called for the urgent removal of trade tariffs on all poultry products and a three-year moratorium on any new tariffs.
It is concerned that the country will be hit by what it calls a chicken price tsunami, which will severely affect consumers and small-scale poultry farmers in the long run. Matthew told Vutivi News that South Africa produced about 85% of all poultry in the country, which included small-scale farmers, who would be affected by rising import prices. “Fifteen percent of the poultry market is made up of imports because local production cannot meet the demand and are thus in need of the support from imports,” he said.
“However, in saying that, the local producers have for a number of years already been against imports, so they sought protection from the government, and that is why we have huge tariffs,” Matthew explained the long-term impact of higher prices, especially on small-scale farmers. “Because South Africa does not produce enough, we are going to have a shortage of the supply of poultry in this country in the long term,” he said.
“Where it has an impact on small and emerging black farmers is that the South African consumer will go to a different protein source like beef or pork, although these are probably more expensive, or they will altogether consume processed products, and this will have an impact on small and emerging farmers (who) must be able to handle the financial impact thereof.”
Matthew also explained the rationale behind the call for chicken tariffs to be scrapped. “We know that chicken is the primary, most affordable and, therefore, the most important source of protein for SA consumers,” the CEO said. “We also know we are facing a chicken price tsunami due to rampant inflation, global food and commodity shortages, the state of the economy post-Covid-19, the impact of the war in Ukraine on global food security, the escalation in fuel, transport and electricity costs, increasing trade tariffs, supply chain disruptions, and the fact that wages are decreasing and unemployment is increasing.
“South Africans are under extreme financial pressure. As a country, we have to do everything possible to arrest poultry price increases, and the quickest and most effective way to do this is for the government to give the South African consumers relief by placing a three-year moratorium on imported poultry tariffs, and the removal of VAT on poultry products.” Matthew said that while the country’s poultry sector had not yet felt the effects of the war between Russia and Ukraine, he believed the impact would be felt in the third quarter of the year with rising maize and soya costs. This would have financial constraints on small farmers, he warned.