Wesgro says chicken feet export deal in place

A Western Cape company recently announced that it had made a deal worth R300 million per year to supply chicken feet to China. The deal was apparently forged through a collaboration with Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Wesgro says chicken feet export deal in place
According to Wesgro, while an agreement has been signed between AskCarlaKote and a Chinese buyer, it is unclear how long regulatory processes will take.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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However, according to Izaak Breitenbach, CEO of the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (agriculture department) had denied the existence of any official protocols pertaining to the exportation of chicken feet between local producers and China.

“SAPA has been inundated by enquiries about the matter since the announcement was made. We immediately contacted the [agriculture department] to find out whether such protocols were in place as all agricultural exports need to be supported by official bilateral agreements at government level. The [agriculture department] confirmed that no such agreement exists,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.

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According to a statement by Wesgro, the deal consisted of the delivery of 540t of chicken feet each month to China. These chicken feet would supposedly be produced by primarily women-owned poultry farms in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga.

Despite various attempts, Farmer’s Weekly could not get hold of any Wesgro official for comment on the matter.

However, in a statement, Wrenelle Stander, CEO of Wesgro, hailed the export agreement allegedly secured by the AskCarlaKote company as a significant achievement in South Africa’s poultry industry, while also showcasing the Western Cape’s growing role as a global agricultural exporter.

Stander said: “With its potential to create thousands of jobs and bolster the regional economy, this deal stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation in driving economic growth. Our mission at Wesgro is to support businesses in driving economic growth and job creation across the city and province. This deal is a significant milestone towards achieving these goals.”

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Meanwhile, Breitenbach also explained that Chinese consumers preferred feet from large birds that weighed at least 2,5kg.

“South African chickens are much smaller. The Chinese market also demands feet without skin. Any undertaking to supply 540t of chicken feet monthly, as announced in the Wesgro statement, is a mammoth undertaking that can’t be taken lightly,” he continued.

While Wesgro had not responded to Farmer’s Weekly’s request for comment by the time the initial article had been published, the company has since confirmed the existence of a “solid, signed commercial contract” between the company AskCarlaKote and a Chinese buyer, with the initial introduction facilitated by Wesgro.

“Our export team personally engaged with the buyer and visited their facilities. There are still regulatory processes that need to be fulfilled in order to give effect to this commercial deal. [The agriculture department] is aware of the deal but we are unable to comment on how long those regulatory processes will take. We are hopeful that this signed commercial deal will be a catalyst to fast-track these negotiations,” Wesgro said.

Asked by Farmer’s Weekly what the impact of the lack of protocols on the transaction would be, Wesgro said: “It is crucial to outline the difference between a commercial export deal and a trade agreement between countries. We are unable to comment on how long those processes will take.”

The agriculture department had not responded to Farmer’s Weekly’s requests for comment.

*This article has been amended to provide our readers with the most recent update pertaining to this story. It has been updated with comment from Wesgro.

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.