50 000 jobs are expected to be lost as a direct result of poultry imports, according to Kevin Lovell, chief executive of the South African Poultry Association. This comes after Rainbow Chicken, one of the country’s largest chicken producers, announced that 15 of its farms, which are based in Hammarsdale in KwaZulu-Natal, were expected to be sold at the end of the month.
“The basic principal behind how the importing of poultry is affecting the industry is that it comes down to unfair competition. Our production costs cannot compete with the unfair competition from the importing countries,” Lovell told City Press.
In 2016, 474 666 348 kilograms of poultry was imported into South Africa, all of which included “off-cuts” such as the thigh and drumstick pieces of chickens, turkeys and ducks according to verified statistics from the South African Revenue Services. “We have become a waste receptacle for the developed world. What it comes down to is that there is a need for the developed world like the European Union to get rid of waste, which is then pumped into our economy,” Lovell said.
Imports from the EU contributed 53.5 % (26.9 million kgs) of total poultry imports into South Africa in October last year, of which 18.6 million kgs were bone-in chicken portions (69.3 %). Brazil remained the main country of origin for South African poultry imports, with 41 % or
20.6 million kgs of total imports, of which 15.6 million kgs were mechanically deboned chicken meat.
Meanwhile, government has been widely criticised for allowing the crisis to reach this level within the poultry industry, after not implementing stricter measures from competing countries.
“The government does have the tools, it’s that they are not utilising them fully,” Lovell said.
“Things are going to get much much worse,” he warned.