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Brazil dominates chicken imports as EU languishes

The latest poultry import figures confirm two trends – imports have been declining since 2018, most recently because of the market impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Brazil is firmly entrenched as the leading supplier to South Africa because of bird flu bans on products from most of Europe.

Both Brazil and the European Union (EU) are under investigation for chicken dumping. The South African poultry industry is applying for anti-dumping duties against Brazil and four EU countries, citing unfairly priced imports for the three years to June 2020.

Until 2016, the EU was the lead supplier to South Africa, in particular dumping ever increasing volumes of bone-in chicken (mainly leg quarters) which hammered the local industry and cost thousands of local jobs. Then a wave of bird flu outbreaks cut EU exports, and Brazil stepped in to help lead a year of record imports in 2018.

Another and more widespread outbreak since 2020 has left Spain as the only EU country licensed to export poultry to South Africa. So Brazil is unchallenged, accounting for just under 70% of poultry imports. The Brazil total diminished, in line with other countries, when the local and global markets were hit by the pandemic. However they have been rising again since December last year and imports for the first five months of 2021 are the highest since 2018.

Brazil’s dominance is shown by its huge lead – 70% of imports, while the EU can only manage 11.8%, just ahead of the United States with 11.3%. While more than half of Brazilian imports are mechanically deboned meat (MDM), it is bone-in imports that cause problems for the local industry and Brazil’s share is rising steadily.

How much of Brazil’s bone-in chicken is dumped product will be shown when the anti-dumping investigation is completed.

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