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The letter from SA Association of Meat Importers & Exporters CEO Paul Matthew refers ("Good for Astral, but not for consumers”, May 17).

Having been on both sides of the fence as a chicken farmer, cold store shareholder and poultry distributor, I find it difficult to accept that the consumer benefits price wise when one compares imported chicken to local stock.

Imported chickens are frozen and retailers who import or buy via importers make far better profit margins on their product. Local stock is sold at a markup of 10%-18%, whereas the profits on imports are 25%-30%.

Most imports are repackaged either as a plain in-house brand or in the deli.  The consumer pays the higher price regardless. One has only to visit wholesale distributors in the rural areas to see for oneself.

If local farmers stop chicken farming and everyone imports, what will become of local industries and unemployment? Most African countries have restricted or limited imports to encourage local industries. Astral and RCL foods derive profits from other interests as well.

So let us build a country of opportunities and not rely on imports. Importers employ a handful of staff, whereas local poultry and their subsidiaries employ in access of 500,000 people.

K Lauwrens 
Via email

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