This is the mixed messaging that comes out of the monthly import statistics gathered by the SA Revenue Service (SARS).
Despite recent declines, total chicken imports for the first six months are the highest since 2020. This includes mechanically deboned meat (MDM) and offal (feet, livers etc) which are also at four-year highs.
So are imports from Brazil, which seems to be pushing volumes ahead of a possible bird flu ban. Avian influenza is sweeping across South America and seems likely to affect the word’s largest poultry producer in the near future.
On the other hand, bone-in imports are low, and dropping. These are the leg quarters, drumsticks and thighs which most affect the local industry and are the subject of all chicken anti-dumping duties. New anti-dumping duties are in effect from 3 August 2023 against bone-in chicken imports from Brazil and four European Union countries – Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain.
The local poultry industry says that, even at lower volumes, dumped imports hurt South African producers and that the latest anti-dumping duties are both necessary and welcome.
Import volumes from August onwards will be watched with interest to see what effect the new duties have had. Will volumes drop, or be maintained but at higher (and fairer) prices?
Or will dumping continue, at unfairly low import prices, because producers in Brazil and elsewhere lower prices to counter new duties? They’ve done it before.