SOUTH AFRICA- Hume International, a global leader in the import, export, and distribution of frozen foods, has issued a dire warning on the soaring prices and supply shortages facing the poultry industry as consumers brace themselves for the festive season this year.

According to Managing Director Fred Hume, several factors have triggered the crisis, including non-tariff trade barriers, anti-dumping duties, and a bird flu epidemic.

A recent report from the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group revealed that the price of a 10 kg bag of frozen chicken surged by nearly 3%, equivalent to R11.33, in just 30 days, climbing from R383.37 in July to R394.70 in August.

Hume highlighted the primary causes for the soaring prices as Non-Tariff trade barriers, anti-dumping duties and the bird flu epidemic.

He noted that South Africa’s reluctance to reopen poultry trade with countries such as Poland, Belgium, and Argentina, despite their bird flu-free status, has created unnecessary trade hurdles.

He added that excessive anti-dumping duties on bone-in chicken imports from Brazil (up to 265%) and other key poultry trading partners (Ireland, Poland, Spain, Denmark) coupled with existing import tariffs (62%) have also deterred imports, reducing competition and thwarting job creation.

“Conservative estimates suggest over one million chickens have perished, resulting in significant revenue losses. These outbreaks, combined with import tariffs, threaten supply availability and drive up prices,” Hume stated.

In addition, he underscored the urgency of addressing these challenges to prevent a poultry crisis.

He called for a temporary suspension of anti-dumping duties for at least six months and urged the government to engage prominent importers in discussions regarding the appropriateness of these duties.

Furthermore, Hume advocated for the swift reopening of trade with countries declared free of bird flu, emphasizing that delayed action could lead to a significant supply shortfall and price hikes that consumers cannot afford.

Meanwhile, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) acknowledged the growing demand for poultry and the challenges posed by recent bird flu outbreaks.

The association underscored that the industry has experienced a surge in cases, with control measures involving culling and disposal of infected livestock incurring substantial financial costs.

SAPA is exploring the use of vaccines against H5 and H7 strains of bird flu to bolster biosecurity efforts, as the financial impact of culling is unsustainable without government compensation.

“Many countries provide assistance and compensation to poultry producers facing disease outbreaks, but South African producers currently lack such support.”

SAPA expressed deep concern about the ongoing outbreaks and their potential to disrupt the poultry supply chain, particularly during the peak demand leading up to the festive season.

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