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SA Poultry Threat – What Can We Do About It?

18th March 2019:  SA Poultry Threat – What Can We Do About It

In FoodStuff SA last week, there were discussions around the dumping of chicken on our market. “Sapa has applied for an 82% ad valorem import tariff on bone-in and boneless frozen chicken from many non-EU countries, including Brazil.”

With the right government assistance, this could go a long way to helping local producers increase market share and grow the job market in the process. Last year R6bn worth and 60% of our chicken came from Brazil, the world largest chicken producer. As the most affordable protein to the South African consumer, the poultry industry is critical to our country’s food safety.

FairPlay founder Francois Baird stated, “But Government and the DTI, which issued the commitment to supporting the industry, know they will be judged on actions not words. We are looking forward to the implementation of real measures that deliver real outcomes.”

In the midst of massive retrenchments in the banking and mining sectors, this is encouraging news. However, our own food manufacturers could do a lot to bolster the situation in their own capacities.

Firstly, we could ask what producers in Brazil are doing that allows them to produce at such a competitive rate, and whether we are able to replicate those processes to become more competitive.

When we have at our disposal affordable solutions that increase capacity with existing assets and labour, enable production of more product in the same amount of time, reduce labour spend without cutting jobs, capture waste points, identify and track short stops that impact the next hour of production, how can we sit back about complain that Brazil is doing it and ruining our market?

Possibly it’s time for us to take action and improve our efficiency? It’s now critical for survival.

Imagine if you had better tracking and traceability. What would happen if you could reduce the cost of raw materials? Tariffs have never been a good solution, as duties usually hurt consumers when they can least afford it. There must be a better way. What if South Africa became a net exporter of food? After all, we have the resources.

Is it the fear of change that’s keeping us stagnant? Surely I am not the only one of the opinion that we are capable of more?

This is truer now more than ever before for South African manufacturers who have for so long been ‘protected’ by a cocooned economy. Change needs to happen. We are now part of the global market place, and they have expectations. If we want to compete, we have to rise to the challenge.

Being fearful of the unknown is natural, which is why top management should seek professional guidance on the path to change. Let’s use people who know what they’re doing. That way if it goes wrong you have someone to blame, and when it goes right, you know who to thank for your impeccable business performance and enormous profits.

Caroline Carter – RSPH, Johannesburg

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