Don't protect 'unproductive' chicken industry - meat association

Cape Town – South Africa is part of the global village and the country needs to be competitive. The local poultry industry, however, is not, according to George Southey, chairperson of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (Amie).

At public hearings on the crisis in the poultry industry hosted by the portfolio committee on trade and industry, Southey said it’s important to understand that meat importers are “fully integrated” businesses, which employ local people and cater to the needs of the retail and food service industry “over the length and breadth” of the country.

Southey said safeguards against imported chicken and dumping should not be put in place by government to protect an “unproductive” industry.

“Our request is that government does not give protection to an industry that may not need it.”

Southey said the job losses experienced in the industry may be based on inefficiencies in the production processes. “We should look at the whole picture in the entire value chain. If we close our borders, we do nothing to become globally competitive and move forward.” 

Amie asked for a full market review into the poultry dilemma in South Africa and requested that all participants – also exporters – be party to the decisions that government makes.

In addition, Amie made a number of recommendations to address current challenges in the poultry industry, such as:

  • identifying important chicken consumption markets and expediting their openness to poultry from South Africa;
  • technology transfer agreements with world-class producers such as the European Union;
  • focusing on world-class competitiveness instead of exercising protectionism;
  • better coordination from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries with other government departments to help the industry gain access to important markets; and
  • government funding and incentives, similar to those provided for the textile and auto industries.
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