SOUTH AFRICA – During a recent media briefing, South Africa Poultry Association (SAPA) announced that it is preparing an application for export accreditation in the EU and Saudi Arabian markets to secure the industry’s future competitiveness.

The General Manager of SAPA, Izaak Breitenbach, disclosed during the briefing that Saudi Arabian authorities are expected in the country to inspect local production facilities and test whether they comply with import requirements.

Breitenbach explained that Saudi Arabia’s chicken demand is growing in line with the rapidly increasing population and the country is seeking to diversify its supply base of chicken.

SAPA, therefore, aims to supply chicken to Saudi Arabia and the European Union as well, as it is a net importer of cooked chicken breast meat.

Breitenbach admitted that it will take time to build and solidify these connections, approximately 24 months before the exporting operations can fully begin.

He affirmed that the country does not need to increase its chicken production to fulfil the needs of these two markets as it already has a sufficient capacity for supply as of now.

Another factor in favour of South Africa emerging into the Saudi and EU markets is that the country, with support from the South African Veterinary Association, is moving towards a vaccination policy to mitigate avian influenza outbreaks, as opposed to the culling policy.

At the World Poultry Congress held in Paris, France, last year, stakeholders reached a consensus that producing countries around the globe need to vaccinate their poultry against the highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The EU and US announced that they will soon start expecting this from all their suppliers.

South Africa, therefore, aims to have the necessary sanitary and phytosanitary measures in place, as specified by these markets, which may not be fully in place just yet, according to Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy executive director, Dr Tracy Davids.

Loadshedding to plunge the sector into a downward spiral

Since 2019, SAPA has invested R1.14 billion (US$78M) in the expansion of production facilities to support new commercial farmers. According to them, these investments have yielded an increase in production of 1 million additional birds per week.

South Africa currently produces about 22.5 million birds a week, however, due to the ongoing energy crisis in the country, the poultry sector is reportedly in decline.

Severe power outages are forcing most factories in the industry to pause the usual 24/7 operations for as long as half a day a time.

The SAPA GM estimates that load shedding has led to the industry reducing production by about 13 million chickens.

Due to the extra costs incurred, chicken prices have had to increase beyond most of the population’s means.

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 affecting the incomes of thousands of stakeholders in the sector.

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