SOUTH AFRICA –Rainbow Chicken Ltd (RCL), a South Africa-based poultry processor, has reemphasized that its upgrade plan for the Hammarsdale primary processing plant to pre-2017 levels is still on track.

The plan includes incorporating new technology into the facility to improve its ability to produce fresh products for its customers.

RCL stated that the company operated at only 50% of its designed capacity, which was not sustainable, and increasing the volumes would help in bringing down the processing costs.

Last month, the group also announced its intentions to reinstate a second shift at its Hammarsdale primary processing plant in Durban and return the plant to full operating capacity.

“As part of the project, we are upgrading our H3 hatchery and a broiler farm, while taking on several new broiler contract growers to meet our expanded bird volume needs,” the group said.

It added that the entire poultry industry was facing challenges ranging from historically high prices of maize and soya, which are key inputs in feed production, to load shedding and related water cuts, and increasing pressure on consumers.

“Dumped chicken imports continue to present a challenge to the local industry. If bird flu were to break out in Brazil, it follows that import volumes into South Africa should decrease,” RCL said.

The statement echoed the assertion made by Fred Hume, the managing director of Hume International, that if Brazil would face a bird flu outbreak, the consequences would prove to be dreadful for South Africa’s poultry supply.

“Imported chicken provides a crucial complement to local production for satisfying local demand. For example, Hume International alone imported roughly 60,000 metric tons of poultry last year, while South Africa as a whole imported three times as much poultry as it exported in terms of nominal value,” he said.

Hume said that as a result, the global bird flu outbreak was posing a significant risk to the country’s food security, especially given the dependence of many households on chicken as an affordable protein.

He urged the government to urgently agree on a heat treatment protocol for mechanically deboned meat (MDM) in case the bird flu outbreaks reported in many countries spread to Brazil.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, around 120,000 birds were reported to have died at two Western Cape poultry farms due to avian influenza.

The provincial veterinary services had previously issued a warning for the public and the agriculture sector to be vigilant after bird flu cases were detected at farms in the Paardeberg area.

RCL had at the beginning of the year released its interim results, which indicated that had increased by 17.6% US$1.08 billion attributed to a combination of higher pricing, to counter rising input costs.

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