The South African Poultry Association has welcomed a renewed focus on the poultry sector masterplan, despite the severe impact that Covid-19 has had on the local poultry industry.
South Africa’s Trade Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel, and Agriculture Minister, Thoko Didiza, have been praised for the progress made to date.
The poultry sector masterplan, which was signed by; the government, the poultry industry, importers, labour representatives and other stakeholders in November 2019, aims to stimulate local demand, boost exports, and protect the domestic chicken industry.
“It has been gratifying to achieve significant progress despite the huge logistical and financial implications of Covid-19, and now that the initial threat has abated somewhat, attention is being refocused very strongly on the masterplan,” said general manager of the Broiler Organisation at the South African Poultry Association, Izaak Breitenbach.
Breitenbach also noted that about R1 billion (€ 51,617,000) of the R1,7 billion (€ 87,748,900) investment that the industry pledged to expand capacity by 2022 has already been activated, with 5% more chickens per week being produced for slaughter. By 2022 a total of 8.7% more chickens per week will be produced. “This is positive news for food security and affordability in trying times for the industry with low demand and high feed prices,” he said.
Strong demand for mixed day-old chicks in South Africa
The coronavirus lockdown in South Africa really brought the country to a halt. However, for South African chicken producer Mike Bosch business was brisk. He saw an increase in demand for mixed day-old chicks.
In terms of transformation and empowerment, Breitenbach notes that SAPA and its members are in the process of establishing 50 new black contract-grower farmers, in addition to the 70 who are already active and productive. He also said that there are currently 25 independent black farmers in a programme that will support them to achieve the full sustainable potential of their businesses for integration into the value chain. The association, he said, has joined forces with the African Farmers’ Association of SA (AFASA), to develop more of these SMMEs.
Ministers have decided to outlaw the practice of labelling bags of imported chicken with multiple possible countries of origin, meaning a single bag of imported chicken can claim to be from 1 of 11 countries. Breitenbach has welcomed this decision saying it is a “significant victory for food safety”, noting that tracing the origin of a meat product is key should something go wrong.
Food safety is also a concern when it comes to the practice of thawing imported chicken for reprocessing, repackaging and sometimes refreezing, according to Breitenbach. “The thawing of bulk frozen chicken meat is only safe when done under very strict safety protocols. Consequently, it is not illegal to thaw meat, but the Agency for Food Safety and Quality has recently reported major issues with compliance. There are many tonnes of imported chicken meat product that do not comply with official safety protocols and this is why thawing was included into the masterplan as a practice that has to be stopped. We are still petitioning for chicken meat to be imported in its final packaging, which would resolve these problems.”