Imports stay on Astral’s radar

South Africa’s largest poultry producer, Astral Foods, has once again cited continued high chicken imports as a factor affecting its financial results.

Releasing results this week for the year to end September 2021, Astral reported increased revenues but lower profits, lower earnings per share and a smaller dividend payout. Higher costs included feed inputs because of the high international price for maize and extraordinary costs related to the bird flu outbreak, unrest and looting, load shedding and municipal service disruptions.

Astral also noted “continued high levels of poultry imports, notwithstanding higher import tariffs, the weak Rand and higher freight costs”.

It calculated that total poultry imports took 25% of the South African market for the year, down from 29% in 2020.

Total imports would include mechanically deboned meat, or MDM, a paste used in the manufacture of processed foods such as polony. Astral remained the leading local producer of chicken, with 20% of the market. RCL Foods was second with 14% and Country Bird third with 7%.

Total poultry imports averaged 6.7 million birds per week, compared to local production of 20.6 million birds per week.

For the year to September, South Africa had imported just under 328 000 tonnes of poultry, Astral reported. Of this, 67% came from Brazil, 16% from the United States, 8.3% from the European Union and 5% from Argentina.

Image: Courtesy Astral Foods.