Astral laments high volumes of chicken imports

South Africa’s largest chicken producer, Astral Foods, has just released results for the first half of its financial year, with substantially increased revenues and profits.

Astral is making good use of its increased production and processing capacity, which was part of the poultry industry’s R1.5 billion investment in expanded capacity in terms of the poultry master plan. The plan seeks to curb imports, which have hobbled the local industry for nearly two decades, while increasing local production and job creation.

The industry has previously reported that some of this new capacity had lain idle, because demand had been suppressed by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Astral reported strong demand for poultry, and higher sales volumes and selling prices. While it expects sales growth to continue, it faces higher feed costs (feed comprises 70% of poultry production costs) and it laments continuing high levels of chicken imports.

“Total poultry imports remained high, with the average monthly total poultry imports for the period under review (six months to end March 2022) equalling approximately 24% of local consumption, at an average of 37 348 tons per month,” the company said.