Chicken importers are worried about the declining levels of imports, while local producers fear another assault from predatory imports once international trade normalises.
South Africa’s trade regulator, the International Trade Administration Commission, included the threat of renewed imports drives from Brazil and the European Union in the reasons for recommending provisional anti-dumping duties last December.
A few months earlier, a forecast of increasing chicken imports over the next decade was included in the 10-year agricultural outlook by the authoritative and independent Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP).
Looking at agricultural prospects from 2021 to 2030, the BFAP said poultry import volumes had peaked in 2018 at 26% of domestic consumption and had averaged 24% from 2018 to 2020. However, the poultry master plan had forecast that imports would reach 21% of domestic consumption by 2030.
“While substantially slower than in the past and not reaching the peaks of 2018, imports are still projected to increase over the coming decade,” it said.
“This reflects a normalisation of the logistical challenges that influenced 2020, as well as the continued phasing out of the safeguard duty on bone-in portion imports of EU origin.”
Much has changed since then. The Ukraine war is pushing up agricultural input costs and food prices around the world, and South Africa has imposed bird flu bans on all EU producers and many parts of the United States.
Nevertheless, 2030 is still fairly far ahead, and these factors may “normalise” long before then.