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A fuss over MDM

Mechanically deboned meat, or MDM, makes up a significant portion of our poultry imports. Should it be included in calculations of the percentage that imports have of the local market?

No, says David Wolpert, the retired former CEO of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters, which has vigorously defended imports and opposed the anti-dumping duties which limit importers’ profits.

Yes, says FairPlay, in this letter to Business Day rebutting Wolpert’s accusations that including MDM is somehow manipulative and dishonest.

MDM is a paste used in the manufacture of processed meats such as polony. It is imported in vast quantities, duty free, from Brazil. Wolpert says it’s not manufactured in South Africa (it is, but in small quantities) and so it doesn’t compete with local chicken.

FairPlay founder Francois Baird points out that total market share, including MDM, is relevant to the local poultry industry because it provides an accurate picture of the South African market. And imported MDM does compete with local poultry because it is a lower priced substitute.

Wolpert may be trying to distract from the real issue, the letter says, which is that dumping is a contravention of international trade rules and is not legally defendable.

Every tonne of dumped imports steals SA jobs and livelihoods and arguing as Wolpert does is the moral equivalent of saying “I only stole a small amount”, Baird states.