David Wolpert, the previous CEO of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters, has been at different times aligned to FairPlay thinking, or critical of it, or an outright antagonist since his retirement.
He was among the several hundred people listening to the FairPlay – Farmer’s Weekly online discussion on the poultry master plan (which he has said AMIE should not have signed).
He congratulated us on a successful event, and then disputed FairPlay’s view that the master plan has had some notable successes.
“I must differ with you in that I think that the master plan is a failure to date,” he wrote.
“Local producers did increase their capacity, but much of this was pre-planned and the rest was in an agreement with government who failed to deliver.
“Exports are a disaster and should not be played down.
“I know the sanitary issues with the EU – they have been going on for years. The SA Poultry Association (SAPA) should send a TOP team to Europe and take the local vets along at SAPA’s cost.
“They will likely refuse, but then the poultry industry can get great media mileage. And, if they can initiate ‘serious’ dialogue between the decision-makers, they may just make some progress.
“I agree with Donald MacKay that there’s potential for big profits here,” Wolpert concluded.
What he didn’t say is that those potentially big profits would go not only to South African chicken producers, but also to AMIE’s exporters because of what could be a substantial amount of extra business.
Why then has AMIE not done more to promote chicken exports in terms of the master plan? Is the failure of the export drive something for which they are partly responsible, or something they could help to fix?
It’s a pity Wolpert’s successor at the organisation, Paul Matthew, did not join our online discussion to give us the exporters’ views.