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Poultry imports to South Africa rebound

The largest import categories of poultry into South Africa are mechanically deboned meat and offal. Photo: Canva
The largest import categories of poultry into South Africa are mechanically deboned meat and offal. Photo: Canva

In 2023, poultry imports into South Africa increased after a 4-year decline.

Poultry imports (primarily chicken) peaked in 2018 at 566,00 tonnes but have since seen a steady decline down to just 373,000 tonnes in 2022. But, for the first 11 months of 2023, imports were higher than the total for 2022, reports BizCommunity.

Reports note that the reasons for the long decline in imports are complex and include widespread outbreaks of bird flu in Europe, the US and Argentina, the Covid pandemic’s disruptions to production, the depreciation of the local currency (rand) and, perhaps to a lesser extent, higher import tariffs.

The largest import categories are mechanically deboned meat (62.6% of chicken imports in November) and offal (18.5%). The main source of both is Brazil, which now supplies 80% of South Africa’s chicken imports. BizCommunity highlights the EU, which used to be the biggest supplier until it was hit by bird flu, has slowly recovered to 7%.

Damaging to the local sector

The US, despite facing bird flu infections, remains the main source of the imports that inflict the most damage to the local industry – bone-in chicken portions such as leg quarters, thighs and drumsticks. These, reports BizCommunity, come in free of anti-dumping duties after the US forced a substantial duty-free quota on South Africa in 2016, as a condition of renewing the Agoa trade deal.

Smaller volumes come from Brazil and the EU, where companies were found guilty of unfair pricing and are subject to anti-dumping duties.

While the imports of bone-in chicken are declining (volumes are down from 287,000 tonnes in 2018 to 66,000 tonnes in the first 11 months of 2023), the 2023 imports still landed price of R1,17 billion, which is close to €50 million).

Kinsley
Natalie Kinsley Freelance journalist





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