DAFF publishes new poultry brining levels

After a year of debate, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has published new brining regulations, setting the maximum amount of flavoured water, salts and/or colorants that may be injected into individual poultry portions at 15%.

This is significantly higher than the 4% to 8% of mass originally mooted by DAFF, but falls well short of brining levels which top 30% at some chicken processors.

DAFF released the amendment notice to the Agricultural Product Standards Act 1990 in December. Although still to be gazetted, this was intended to be a final draft, but SA Poultry Association (SAPA) CEO Kevin Lovell said it required “very boring but necessary” technical corrections.

Lovell also said he still had to ascertain if SAPA members wanted to debate the percentages further.

“Until the regulations are gazetted, it’s hard for producers to adapt,” he added. Most major producers are doing Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) portions at 70:30 (70% chicken: 30% brine). “So if DAFFs level of 15% brine is introduced, it’ll be a big change in the amount of chicken product that is sold,” said Lovell.

Anthony Clark, food producer analyst with Vunani Securities, said poultry companies with a high component of IQF in their mix as well as a brine injection rate of more than 25% would not be happy with the new DAFF proposal.

“Some poultry stocks, such as Rainbow and Sovereign, will ‘cope and adjust’, as they’ve adapted their models to a changing dynamic. However, Astral, with its high component of commodity IQF product, stands to lose hundreds of millions of rands in revenue with this DAFF regulation,” said Clark.

Meanwhile Astral released a statement stating that the brining level of 15% for portions is not appropriate and will not serve in the best interest of all stakeholders, particularly the consumers of brined chicken products, as it will have a detrimental impact on the price and affordability of IQF products.

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