Better prospects for SA chicken exports

Things are at last looking better for exports of cooked chicken from South Africa to the European Union (EU).

Chicken exports have been dropping since the poultry master plan in 2019 listed exports as a major growth area.

Now, five South African poultry companies are looking to export cooked poultry meat – mainly chicken breasts and thighs – to the EU within the next year, says Izaak Breitenbach of the SA Poultry Association.

Breitenbach told Farmers Weekly that, although South Africa exported to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and neighbouring African states, the country had never exported poultry on a large scale.

South African producers had been gearing up to ensure they adhered to the EU’s strict import requirements, and export permits needed to be arranged between the South African government and the EU, he said.

An export boost is one of the priorities of the poultry master plan. As we noted earlier this month in Volume 70, the exports focus is a potential bonanza not only for producers but also for the exporters and importers who signed the master plan in 2019.

However, since the master plan was signed, poultry exports have dropped – from 50 229 tonnes in 2019, to 50 099 tonnes in 2020 and to 48 997 tonnes last year.

Nearly all of our poultry exports go to neighbouring states, with most (57%) going to Lesotho. The United Arab Emirates, a target for increased sales, accounted for only 1.3% of South African poultry exports in 2021.

The master plan envisages South Africa becoming a significant poultry exporter. Hopefully 2022 will be the start of an exports turnaround.