Developing the Saudi export market

Shipments of poultry to Saudi Arabia should begin by the end of next year, after inspections by the Saudi authorities of the five South African producers involved, according to a report in the latest Poultry Bulletin, the official publication of the SA Poultry Association (SAPA).

Export approval would signal the end of lengthy government-to-government negotiations that, from South Africa’s side, have been handled by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).

SAPA’s Izaak Breitenbach is optimistic about the Saudi market. It is a growing market that, because of high local production costs, will always depend on some measure of imports, he said.

“Moving into exports is a strategic measure to increase the total value of the carcass we produce. Breast meat fetches a far lower price in South Africa than it would in Saudi Arabia, which means that even exporting a small volume of meat will make a significant difference to a producer’s profitability and, therefore, sustainability.” 

Breitenbach believes South Africa’s advantages as a globally competitive chicken producer should enable it to secure a slice of the Saudi market, which includes millions of tourists every year.

“Exports are unlikely to ever be the mainstay of our industry, but the role they can play to improve our sustainability is an opportunity not to be missed,” Breitenbach said.

South African chicken exports are far behind the targets set in the 2019 poultry master plan.

Exports are still stuck at 1% of production. The master plan envisaged exports rising to 3% to 5% of local production by 2024 and 7% to 10% by 2028. 

There’s a lot of work to be done, particularly from the government side. This includes expansion of the veterinary facilities and staff needed for export certification, and those important, and lengthy, governmental negotiations with potential export countries.         . 

Those destinations include neighbouring states, where most exports go at the moment, other African countries, the European Union, and the Middle East.