SOUTH AFRICA – The Listeriosis crisis has reportedly weighed down the country’s pork industry, producer prices having fallen 40%, resulting in rands accounted for losses by the pig farmers.

The Listeriosis outbreak, claimed to have affected 945 patients and confirmed to have killed 176 people has led to the closure of several processing facilities including one pork processing facility in KwaZulu-Natal and other food processors, RCL’s Wolwehoek polony plant.

Fin24 reports that the KwaZulu-Natal facility employs an estimated 2,000 people and these will have their jobs lost after the department of health identified polony from Enterprise’s Polokwane factory as the source of the listeriosis outbreak.

Since the minister of health’s revelation, the Polokwane factory, Enterprise’s Germiston factory and its abattoir at Clayville remains closed following several recalls of polony meat from RCL Foods.

The Listeriosis misfortune is said to have affected about 125 commercial pig farmers and about 400 upcoming pig farmers who supply the pork industry.

Johann Kotzé, CEO of the SA Pork Producers’ Organisation said that if the spread is not controlled, young and new farmers are likely to disappear now that the public was warned against the use of processed meat cold cuts and ready-to-eat meat products.

50% of the pork industry’s production is processed into polony, which contains only between 0% and 2% pork and viennas and pork sausages containing only between 2% and 25% pork, while the other 50% are carcasses that are sent to the pork meat market.

According to Arnold Prinsloo, chairperson of the SA Meat Processors’ Association’s crisis committee, pork businesses had seen a 75% decrease in the demand for polony and viennas and a decrease of 50% in other pork cold cuts.

He added that forecast losses for meat processors is estimated to be about US$67 million a month, excluding the losses in related industries.

“If the situation does not drastically change, we fear that about 30 smaller producers will have to close their doors, with 8 000 possible job losses in the industry,” said Prinsloo.

While South Africa slaughtered 2.855 million pigs last year, Kotzé said Enterprise is responsible for about 12% of the total production, which is between 5 000 and 6 000 a week for pork in retail and for processing.