Picture: 123RF/ANDOR BUJDOSO
Picture: 123RF/ANDOR BUJDOSO

Poultry industry players have welcomed a plan announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to turn around the fortunes of the embattled sector.

At the investment conference this week, Ramaphosa announced a new masterplan for the poultry industry that includes measures to boost domestic demand and the affordability of local broiler products.

The plan also focuses on measures to protect the sector, including simplifying trade systems, implementing anti-dumping measures, and considering the introduction of import licences to support compliance.

SA’s poultry sector has shed thousands of jobs and blames its demise on cheap chicken imports from Brazil, the US and Europe. This has brought it into conflict with SA meat importers who blame the lack of competitiveness of the local poultry industry for their current woes.

The SA Poultry Association (Sapa) has lodged an application with the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) — the organisation tasked with customs tariff investigations, trade remedies, and import and export control — calling for an increase in the ad valorem tariff on bone-in and boneless frozen chicken portions to 82% from existing levels of 37% and 12%, respectively.

Sapa GM Izaak Breitenbach said on Thursday that the plan, which was the brainchild of the government and industry players, provides a blueprint to take the poultry sector forward. “The plan makes many provisions for addressing many unfair trade practices, including dumping and a number of food safety sins.” 

FairPlay, a local organisation that aims to fight predatory trade practices and dumping, also welcomed the plan.

“While FairPlay welcomes these developments, for which we have campaigned relentlessly over the past three years, everything now depends on implementation,” said Fairplay founder Francois Baird. “The key to success will be the effectiveness of government measures to restrict imports, first through a tariff announcement, expected soon. The strength of the government’s intent will be shown by the percentage tariff it is prepared to impose to restrict Brazilian chicken imports.”

The promised crackdown on “unfair forms of trade” is another vital initiative against unacceptable trade practices, Baird said. These include practices that can compromise food safety, such as thawing and refreezing, selling previously frozen imports as fresh chicken, and inadequate labeling that can prevent effective traceability in the event of product contamination.

Baird said that the government will require additional resources for the effective implementation of existing and new regulations and FairPlay hopes the import sector, as signatories of the masterplan, will play a constructive role in seeing this realised. 

phakathib@businesslive.co.za