Load shedding poses a threat to South African poultry sector

SOUTH AFRICA- The severe power outages currently plaguing South Africa are causing significant negative effects on the poultry industry and the food sector as a whole.

Power cuts have forced most factories in the poultry industry to pause the usual 24/7 operations for as long as half a day a time.

Consequently, over 10 million birds intended for slaughter are still alive, still consuming feed hence creating a backlog most companies do not think they will be able to clear.

The South African Poultry Association CEO Izaak Breintenbach said in an interview that processing has had to be reduced due to extended periods of load shedding which is very costly for the factories.

As an alternative, producers are opting to use generators but they cost about 75 rand cents (US$0.0439) above the normal production price per kilogram of chicken.

There are enough chickens on the country’s farms but factories cannot supply the market because they cannot proceed with the production and processing.

As a result, KFC, a fast food chain popular in South Africa for chicken, has temporarily shut down some of its restaurants in the country. This first happened at the end of last year (2022)

Chicken is a major source of affordable protein in South Africa and while the country is in an uphill battle with the rapidly rising cost of living, a sudden surge in the price of chicken would make it beyond a lot of people’s means.

Egg producers are also being affected by the power cuts because eggs are not moving off the shelf due to the spike in prices.

Agricultural economists are saying that the poultry sector requires a consistent supply of electricity as most of its products are perishable.

The poultry sector is one of the biggest sectors in the country’s food industry with a relatively large number of people depending on it for the sustainability of their livelihoods.

Power blackouts risk plunging the sector into a downward spiral, directly incomes of thousands of farmers and other people employed in the sector.

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