SOUTH AFRICA – The US has defended its dumping of cheap poultry products into the local economy, saying that with a consumption of 1.8million tons a year, the South African chicken demand outstrips local supply.

The USA Poultry and Egg Export Council said international imports played a crucial role in meeting the demand for high quality, affordable protein.

The council said both countries were eating more poultry than ever before, with South Africans consuming about 33kg of chicken, 10.9kg of beef and veal, 3.4kg of pork and 3kg of mutton a person, annually.

The Americans, on the other hand, consumed about 48.3kg of chicken, 25.6kg of beef and veal, 22.8kg of pork and 0.4kg of mutton a person, annually.

The US exports its poultry to South Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

New choice

The council’s regional director, Zelda Sharp, said that while US imports represented only about 3percent of South Africa’s annual poultry production, they were bringing new choice to the market: “International trade ensures a broad supplier base, which supports a steady supply of stock and mitigates the risk of supplies being disrupted by climate change, drought or disease.

“It also controls spiralling food prices that could occur in a monopoly situation.”

The council claimed that South African consumers had proven very receptive to the “high quality frozen bone-in portions”.

But not so for chicken lobby group FairPlay and Proudly South African, which have been advocating against chicken dumping in the local economy.

In November, FairPlay wrote to former president Jacob Zuma and his then deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, among other government officials, calling on them to “rescue the beleaguered” poultry industry, which has lost thousands of jobs due to dumping.

ProudlySA’s Deryn Graham told Business Report that they were not against chicken imports, but were particularly concerned about levelling the playing field as far as the sale of chicken in the country was concerned. “We are against immoral dumping,” she said.

Business Report