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Do chicken importers really support the master plan?

That’s the question that has arisen after strong opposition to the master plan from David Wolpert, a former CEO of the meat importers and exporters association AMIE.

In a letter to Business Day, Wolpert has described the master plan as “flawed, unreasonable, unfair and ultimately unworkable”. In that and a follow up letter, Wolpert said it was a mistake for importers to have signed the master plan, because it was not in their interests, and he criticised his successor at AMIE, Paul Matthew, for what amounted to “turkeys voting for Christmas”.

FairPlay believes Wolpert is unlikely to be alone in those views because, as he says, the master plan aims to reduce the market share of imported chicken (while boosting local production and local jobs).

Matthew signed it, but he has since kicked against some of its provisions, such as localisation and import tariffs. 

He also signed it on behalf of all of AMIE’s members and associate members, including major chicken producers and exporters in Brazil, the United States and Europe. 

Which has made FairPlay wonder about the level of support among AMIE members for the import reductions which are a key pillar of the master plan. Fat profits have been made for nearly two decades from dumped and predatory chicken imports which have harmed the South African poultry industry and cost local jobs.

On behalf of the SA Poultry Association (SAPA) Izaak Breitenbach recently reconfirmed industry support for the master plan. Perhaps it is time that importers do the same – unequivocal backing for the plan and all its objectives, with no conditions, no “buts” and no “maybes”.

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