South African poultry producers are facing shrinking exports after the Zimbabwe government banned all poultry importation from South Africa, according to Supreme Poultry manager Izaak Breitenbach.
The Zimbabwean Poultry Association (ZPA) has alleged that South African and South American poultry were heavily injected with a brine saltwater solution, to levels as high as 40%, the South African newspaper The Star reported on Tuesday.
The solution increased bird weight when frozen, but it seeped out before or during cooking, leaving the actual meat content at 60-70% of the original weight, the ZPA said.
The association said it also suffered of unfair competition because South African chickens were fed genetically modified maize ingredients, which compromised the quality of the meat.
Zimbabwean farmers are understood to have lobbied their government because they had built up large stockpiles, which they had failed to sell because of competition mainly from South Africa and Brazil.
According to the Southern African Poultry Association, South Africa exports about 1,500 t of chickens annually to Zimbabwe, which accounts for about 80% of total exports.
Breitenbach described the ban as unfair and added that chicken meat prices in Zimbabwe would rise drastically as the country’s producers would not be able to meet demand.
“We would not be having so many importers from that country if they were able to ramp up production to meet their needs,” Breitenbach said. “I think it’s because we are more efficient than them. It’s unfair for consumers.” He added that this is absolutely a business decision, and has nothing to do with animal health or with GM maize.