Bird flu bans have kept South African imports of EU chicken at increasingly low levels since 2017. Brazil has stepped in, as it has during previous EU bird flu outbreaks, and remains the dominant supplier of poultry imports.
Only one EU country – Spain – is currently licensed to export poultry to South Africa, and in August this year the EU (essentially Spain) accounted for only 9.1% of South Africa’s imports.
Brazil keeps the top spot, with 64.3% of imports, most of which is mechanically deboned meat (MDM), a paste used in processed meats such as polony.
While EU imports are dropping, despite being allowed in duty-free, imports from Brazil have been rising all year. For the first eight months of the year, poultry imports from Brazil are 16.5% above 2020 levels.
More tellingly, the Brazil total for those first eight months is the highest since 2018, when chicken imports rose to record heights, fuelled by Brazil because of EU bird flu bans.
Imports from the United States had also been rising, but dropped back in August. The US total is 13.8% down on July, and 14.7% down on the first eight months of 2021. However, it is nearly 52% higher than the total of US imports in August 2020.
US imports are hurting local producers, firstly because large volumes come in free of anti-dumping duties under the AGOA trade pact, and secondly because the bulk of US imports are the bone-in portions such as leg quarters which do the most damage to the local industry.