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SA's chicken industry is crying wolf - importers

Jan 30 2017 19:52

Cape Town - South Africa's beleaguered poultry industry is not under threat, according to David Wolpert, CEO of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of SA (Amiesa).

"It is time to put a stop to the huge campaign of lies and distortions levied against imports," he said.

The local chicken industry, which is currently experiencing massive losses, is crying wolf, said Wolpert. "It's survival is not under threat."

However, he conceded the the industry "is bleeding at the moment, but not because of imports".

Members of Amiesa bring in around 240 000 tonnes of bone-in chicken annually, which is around 14% of the total consumption nationally.  "[These] imports are simply too small to have such devastating effects."

Wolpert said in his view the problem facing local producers relate to the high cost of feed, representing a massive share of their costs, as well as a complete lack of an export programme.

It is expected that better-than-anticipated rains and a drop in soya bean and maize prices will give producers some respite.

"The maize price is expected to drop by around 40% by mid year. This will have a massive positive effect on local producers' profits."

The government slammed a “safeguard duty” of 13.9%, which will last until July, on frozen chicken legs imported from the European Union (EU) to help the ailing local industry. However there are calls for a higher tariff to be applied for an extended period.

"Higher import duties will have little effect, other than burn a hole in consumers' pockets," said Wolpert.

The current import duties for chicken imports from countries like Brazil and the United States are 82% for whole birds, 31% for carcasses, 12% for boneless cuts, 30% for offal and 37% for “bone-in” portions (mainly legs).

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

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