‘Cheap poultry imports damage local industry’

There is growing concern among South African poultry producers about ‘cheap’ chicken pieces being imported into South Africa. This was according to Izaak Breitenbach, head of the South African Poultry Association’s Broiler Organisation.

‘Cheap poultry imports damage local industry’
- Advertisement -

He said figures from the South African Revenue Service showed that Australian chicken thighs were landing at South African ports at about R6,89/kg.

“This is the lowest price for any [portion] of meat from any country in the world. It’s even less than [the price of] chicken feet, which are usually cheaper than [other] meat [products],” Breitenbach said.

At present, exporters from all countries outside the EU were paying a 62% import tariff on poultry products.

- Advertisement -

This meant that the importation tax on poultry imported at R6,89/kg would be R4,27. Therefore, the meat was essentially imported at R11,16/kg, he explained.

“It currently costs at least R26,50 to produce a whole chicken carcass in South Africa,” Breitenbach said, adding that local producers were highly competitive in global terms.

“We don’t mind poultry imports at competitive rates, but dumping destroys local jobs and damages the local poultry industry. Dumping is not acceptable within the World Trade Organization’s guidelines [either]. This is why there are certain remedies [such as tariffs] that countries can apply to prevent dumping.”

According to the Land Bank’s May 2022 Poultry Industry Insight report, South African poultry producers were unable to meet local consumer demand for poultry products.

The bank reported that domestic consumption of poultry products would reach 1,89 million tons this year, which was 0,16% lower than the 1,9 million tons consumed in 2021.

Last year, South Africa imported approximately one-fifth of its total poultry consumption, the report said.

A US Department of Agriculture report indicated that in 2021, the forecast for South Africa’s chicken meat production was increased by 4% to 1,57 million tons, up from 1,51 million tons in 2020.

Breitenbach said that in the past, much of the production shortfall could be substituted with imports from the EU. However, avian influenza (AI) had led to a major decline in imports from those regions.

Locally, incidences of AI had decreased, but the disease was still present in wild birds, he added.