LET­TER: To de­monise poul­try im­ports is just foul play


IREFER to nu­mer­ous re­cent reports in var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing your own, re­gard­ing the par­lous state of the lo­cal poul­try in­dus­try.

Many of these reports, again in­clud­ing your own, con­tain mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion and are also in­com­plete due to se­ri­ous omis­sions.

There are two ma­te­rial is­sues that are not even men­tioned in your reports:

South Africa is no­to­ri­ous for high brining lev­els – in­ject­ing chicken with a wa­ter and salt-based so­lu­tion to “en­hance suc­cu­lence”.

This prac­tice has been so abused over the years that the gov­ern­ment has now im­ple­mented brining lim­its.

The prac­tice has, over the last decade or so, driven out of busi­ness many lo­cal pro­duc­ers of both fresh and brined chicken who sim­ply did not have the cap­i­tal to com­pete, re­sult­ing in ma­jor job losses – an­other area where the fin­ger has al­ways been pointed at the poul­try im­port in­dus­try, yet much of the lo­cal in­dus­try dam­age was self-in­flicted by lo­cal pro­duc­ers.

Then there is the is­sue of ex­ports. Why does the em­bat­tled lo­cal poul­try in­dus­try not ex­port more than a few thou­sand tons per an­num? Un­brined prod­uct, with a ma­jor ex­port drive, and the en­force­ment of Euro­pean health re­quire­ments, could eas­ily be ex­ported to Europe, where no cus­toms du­ties would ap­ply, and the weak rand would be of great as­sis­tance. Such a move would cer­tainly save jobs.

Sadly, the lo­cal poul­try in­dus­try has been hard hit by the drought and con­se­quently high feed prices, but once again, de­pict­ing im­ports as a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to their prob­lems is disin­gen­u­ous – im­ports do not dom­i­nate this sec­tor of the economy, they merely act as a balance be­tween sup­ply and de­mand, and pro­vide the South African con­sumer with an op­tion of un­brined prod­uct. They also act as a bul­wark against ris­ing poul­try prices – again in the con­sumer’s in­ter­est.

Im­ports rep­re­sent 14 per­cent of to­tal poul­try con­sump­tion, and if lo­cal poul­try is suc­cess­ful in its ef­forts to de­monise im­ports and elicit sig­nif­i­cantly higher im­port du­ties, the re­sult will be huge in­creases at the tills, some­thing our hard-pressed con­sumers can ill af­ford.

It would be far bet­ter for lo­cal poul­try bosses to look at their busi­ness plans so that they can counter cycli­cal ad­verse weather pat­terns, main­tain healthy balance sheets, com­pete ef­fec­tively and, most im­por­tantly, en­sure job se­cu­rity for their labour force.


The lo­cal poul­try in­dus­try has been hit hard by the drought and con­se­quently high feed prices.

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