The real reason our chicken farmers are struggling – and it’s not about imports

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The real reason our chicken farmers are struggling – and it’s not about imports

TMG Digital | 2017-02-02 08:11:39.0

The South African poultry industry is struggling with the high cost of feed. File photo.

Image by: iStock

Never mind the “fake news” narrative about buying local in a backlash against imports – The South African poultry industry is struggling with the high cost of feed. And “systemic problems”.

David Wolpert‚ CEO of the Association Of Meat Importers And Exporters Of South Africa‚ has written to the Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry in Parliament requesting a inquiry into the local chicken industry.

“I am concerned that the public has been misled in the debate surrounding the state of the local chicken industry and the jobs that the industry is shedding‚” he says. “Worse‚ it is our contention that this manipulation not only serves to preserve the profits of the local industry‚ but also puts South Africa’s food security at risk.

“Local poultry would have the public believe that importers of chicken have been to blame for recent job losses in local industry. To this end‚ they have led a campaign that seeks to shift blame to a conveniently identifiable scapegoat – away from their own serious and endemic problems.”

According to Wolpert‚ the facts are: – Imported poultry makes up only 14 percent of all the chicken consumed nationally; this is simply too small an amount to have any serious effect on local industry.

– The real challenge facing local producers relates to the high cost of feed due to the drought. Maize prices are expected to drop later this year and this will have a significant‚ positive impact on local producers’ profits.

– Protectionist policies will not fix the local industry but rather paper over the cracks of their inadequate business planning and management.

– South African poultry does not have a successful export policy‚ which would take up the excess production capacity. The EU would be an ideal destination for duty free exports.

Imported EU chicken is already subject to a newly implemented 13.9 percent “safeguard duty” and the local industry is seeking further tariffs‚ said.

“This will only lead to South Africa’s poorest consumers subsidising the local chicken industry.”

He charged: “For as long as the local industry willfully deflects scrutiny from its own systemic problem‚ South Africa’s food security remains at risk. That is why I have requested that the Portfolio Committee Chair consider launching an appropriate Parliamentary inquiry into the local chicken industry.”



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