More avian flu cases re­ported – now in Gaut­eng

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT -

JSE-LISTED poul­try pro­ducer RCL Foods yes­ter­day be­came the lat­est vic­tim of the avian in­fluenza when it re­ported an out­break in one of its 18 sheds in the Viva farm near Mul­der­s­drift in Gaut­eng. RCL de­scribed the farm as a small breeder fa­cil­ity which was not used for meat pro­duc­tion as most of the birds were at the end of their life cy­cle. “This out­break oc­curred de­spite the ob­ses­sive and strin­gent biose­cu­rity mea­sures that we have in place to con­tain the spread of the virus,” RCL manag­ing direc­tor for for con­sumer di­vi­sion Scott Pit­man said. “We are work­ing closely, and fully co-op­er­at­ing, with gov­ern­ment and other au­thor­i­ties to gather in­dus­try re­search on how best to con­tain the virus. It should be noted that the virus is not known to af­fect hu­mans.” The news came af­ter As­tral Foods also re­ported a sim­i­lar out­break at its Welbe­dacht farm near Stander­ton in Mpumalanga last week. Paul Makube, se­nior agri­cul­tural economist at FNB, said the lat­est out­break was wor­ry­ing for the poul­try in­dus­try and at­tempts to con­tain it should be found soon. Makube said the sit­u­a­tion could have far reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions for poul­try ex­ports. “We will lose mar­ket share and this will lead to more im­ports and def­i­nitely high prices for chicken,” he said, ad­ding that it would also lead to a de­pop­u­la­tion of flocks and a de­cline in lo­cal poul­try vol­umes. – Sandile Mchunu

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