Maintain momentum and fix the poultry master plan

In a statement, FairPlay founder Francois Baird welcomed the imposition of anti-dumping duties on dumped imports of bone-in chicken from Brazil and four European Union countries – Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain. They were approved a year ago by trade minister Ebrahim Patel, but he delayed their implementation for 12 months.

“The decision should never have been delayed – fears of the impact of new duties on retail chicken prices were exaggerated – but struggling chicken producers can now breathe a sigh of relief,” Baird said.

“The industry was already battling and in distress when the delay was announced last year. Since then, poultry producers have suffered multiple blows, and have been producing chicken at a loss because of the impact of load shedding, rocketing feed prices and infrastructure failures.  

“To that was added an increasing flow of dumped chicken from Brazil, by invitation of Minister Patel who had given them 12 months to import as much as they liked.”

Minister Patel had probably also rescued the poultry master plan he signed with industry leaders in 2019, Baird said.

“The delay in imposing anti-dumping duties broke government’s commitment in the master plan to ‘act decisively’ against illegal and dumped chicken imports. Resentment would only have escalated had he announced a further delay”.

The master plan aims to expand the local industry while curbing chicken imports overall, and stopping the illegal and dumped imports that had held back industry growth. It has been beset by multiple delays and much of it is incomplete.

“The plan envisaged a revitalised chicken industry creating new jobs as it expanded into new domestic markets and enjoyed an exports bonanza. However, while production has increased, domestic consumption has not, and exports have hardly risen in four years.

“The plan’s successes are nearly all due to contributions from poultry producers, who have exceeded their master plan commitments to invest and create jobs. By contrast, nearly every part of the master plan requiring government action is behind schedule.

“Minister Patel needs to crack some whips to get things moving swiftly. He needs to meet regularly with local producers and chicken importers, who are also exporters and signatories to the master plan. He needs to rebuild trust, with and between his master plan partners,” Baird said.