She confirmed that most major poultry companies had been forced to downscale operations, threatening thousands of jobs, while many small-scale producers have already gone bankrupt. Cheaply imported products are the main concern, she said.
According to Achmad Brinkhuis, SAPA chairperson and a broiler producer from the Western Cape, imports reached record-high levels last year, with 230 643t of poultry imported between January and September. Of these, 18 098t came from the US, while the rest came from Europe.
Moreover, favourable import tariffs saw other countries, such as Brazil, exporting chicken to South Africa via Europe.
Combined with poor economic growth, the resulting imbalance in supply and demand had put downward pressure on prices, which decreased 0,6% during 2016. The industry had been at odds with government about brining and phytosanitary regulations for imports from the US, Brinkhuis said.
“We’re hoping government will initiate a better tariff system to protect the local industry from subsidised poultry from Europe. Government is also helping us develop new markets in SADC, China and the Middle East, which could help alleviate pressure on the local market.
“South Africa’s production and phytosanitary standards are among the best in the world. Hence we should be able to thrive in better paying overseas markets.”
The production outlook for 2017 remains bleak. While egg production is expected to increase slightly from 7,654 billion to 7,656 billion, slaughter birds are expected to decline about 10% from just over one billion birds slaughtered in 2016.