By Zandile Majavu
Although poultry associations have welcomed the lowered taxes on imported chicken with temporary rebates, some severe constraints in the chicken supply chain remain. The International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) confirmed that it was lowering import tax duties on chicken last week.
This follows the devastating outbreak of bird flu, which caused the prices of chicken and eggs to soar. “[ITAC’s] recent uplifting of punitive tariffs on imported chicken is an important rebate on duties, as it will open local importers to a larger international supplier base,” said Roy Thomas, the logistics and operations director of food distributor Hume International. “This will mean more competitively priced options to fill the void left in the local production because of Avian Flu.”
However, he warned that there were several challenges in the supply chain process that poultry producers were continuing to experience despite the rebate. “The first is the ongoing headache of load-shedding, which has dire impacts on business operations and particularly cold stores. According to the outlier, there were 335 days with load-shedding in 2023, and some experts predict that 2024 could be even worse,” Thomas told Vutivi News.
He added that water challenges in the Eastern Cape caused by drought and poor infrastructure forced Hume International to sink a borehole to operate. Meanwhile, Transvaal Agricultural Union general secretary Bennie Van Zyl said that slashing taxes did not solve the overall problem of the sector. “To think that you can only import chicken is a very shortsighted approach. The best thing for any country is to make sure that it has its production, and is profitable and running well. This is negative for the producers because we have to make sure that we keep the producers in production,” he said.
The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of Southern Africa (AMIE) has also welcomed the decision, saying that it will keep the price of chicken stable for consumers, which is especially important for poor households. “Chicken remains the most affordable and essential source of protein for consumers, especially the poor, who are struggling to meet their families’ basic food security needs. AMIE believes this decision shows that the government is alive to the plight of poor South Africans,” AMIE said in a statement.