Chicken Industry

Astral is concerned about imports

Critics like to claim that imports are not a big concern for South African chicken producers. They should look at this week’s presentation by the country’s biggest producer, Astral Foods, of its results for the first six months of its financial year.

Astral devotes seven out of 58 slides to imports. Yes, Astral is worried about avian influenza and high feed prices, but it is far from happy about current high levels of chicken imports.

Astral says South Africa’s broiler production is 20.6 million birds per week, while imports for the six months to April 2021 came to 7.1 million birds per week. A graphic showed imports have the highest market share, at 26%, ahead of Astral (19%), RCL Foods (14%) and Country Bird (7%).

The company says high levels of poultry imports continued, notwithstanding the higher import duty on frozen cuts. “It is still unclear if higher import tariffs on frozen bone-in portions announced last year in March 2020, will discourage unfair trade (dumping).”

Critics also think chicken producers are making record profits. Astral’s after-tax profits for the first six months of the financial year were R230 million, a drop of 38% compared to the same period last year.