International trade

Import volumes are still a matter of concern

The need for action against dumped and predatory chicken imports is not lessened by the fact that import volumes have been decreasing for the past three years.

Even though imports have dropped, in some cases sharply, volumes and values remain substantial. 

R30 billion left the country to pay for poultry imports in the five years to 2020. While much of this is mechanically deboned meat, or MDM, which is not made locally in any great volumes, it also includes substantial amounts of bone-in portions.

It is these imports (leg quarters, thighs, drumsticks and wings) that have caused contractions and job losses in South Africa. In 2020, imports of bone-in portions cost R2.23 billion. According the industry’s tariff application, much of this is dumped product, imported below the cost it is sold for in producer markets.

The figures for 2021 will be known next month. Even at lower import volumes, billions of rand are going abroad year after year to support jobs in Brazil, the EU and the United States.

Just think of the job creation and economic boost for rural communities that would have resulted from the investment of R30 billion in local chicken production over the past five years.