Poultry tariffs bring quantum of solace

After months of delays, the new poultry tariffs were gazetted on 30 September, and there seems to be consensus that the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) has taken into account the needs of consumers, local industry and importers.

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“Itac is trying to find a balance between local industry’s need to survive and the price of food,” said SA Poultry Association (SAPA) CEO Kevin Lovell. “While the tariff increases are an important step towards safeguarding the local poultry industry, the organisation remains concerned that the combination of abnormally high input costs, including feed and energy, together with large quantities of imports will continue to place unsustainable pressures on an industry in distress.”

Previously tariffed at R2,20/kg, bone-in portions will now be tariffed at 37%, which equates roughly to an extra 200c/kg or 20%, while the duty on boneless products (including fillets) increased from 5% to 12%.

SAPA was granted its 82% duty request on the whole birds category, while carcass duties were lifted by 4% and offal by 3%. MDM was excluded from the application because SA does not produce sufficient MDM for local needs.

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Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE) CEO David Wolpert said AMIE was disappointed that duty increases were implemented at all, but was pleased that levels were not up to the “inflationary and greedy levels” that were applied for by SAPA.

The duties affect imports only from countries other than the EU, which is currently the largest source of poultry imports into SA. They also apply only to frozen and not fresh or chilled poultry and will be applicable from 30 September. “The tariff is applied at the point of import so the warehouse price, and not the retail price, will change from today,” said Lovell. "It remains to be seen how much will be passed down the value chain to the consumer."