Flap over chicken duty rise

2013-05-21 00:00

PEOPLE who like eating chicken might have to pay more for it if the South African Poultry Association has its way.

The association is pushing the government, through its arm, the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa, to increase the duty on imported chicken from 27% up to 82%, a jump that could push up the sales price of imported chicken by an estimated 50%.

Siyabulela Tsengiwe, Chief Commissioner, International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa, said they had received an application from the association to increase duty on imported chicken and were investigating that application.

“That investigation is at an advanced stage and the commission will meet in the middle of June to look at it … We will consider all matters of the process including production, trade and financing and also the profitability of the operation.”

However, Donald Mackay, a director of XA International Trade Advisors, a consultant company that advises on trade policy and advises poultry importers, said the duty increase would put pressure on poor families, who are the main consumers of these products.

“This is very bad news for poor South Africans, who consume the majority of imported livers, gizzards, feet, necks and carcasses, as well as other cuts,” he said. “While SAPA, which represents local chicken producers, may argue that the bulk of the protein supplied to learners is from local producers, the reality is that all prices will increase.”

In a statement, David Wolpert, the chief executive officer of the Association for Meat Importers and Exporters (Amie), said that if imports were taken out of the market, all chicken prices would go up. “Local manufacturers cannot meet demand, and when supply is threatened it impacts directly on price.

“Remove imports and there will be an unsuppressed selling price. Imports create a sanity check against unfettered increases.”

Wolpert said the poultry association already controlled abouit 90% of the market, but South Africa, unlike other producing countries, had a paltry export market.

The association was contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of going to press.

Scott Pitman, head of the association’s broiler committee, told Business Day recently that South Africa had one of the most unprotected poultry industries in the world.

Peter Arnold, food merchandise director for Pick n Pay, said, in a statement the retailer was opposed to the increase.

“Any increase in the tariff — as being proposed by the SAPA — would have a direct and serious impact on the price of chicken. Chicken is one of the primary sources of protein, especially among consumers who have less or find themselves under financial pressure.”

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