No chicken shortage expected this year

The SA Poultry Association (SAPA) has assured parliament that any shortage of local chicken for South African consumers at the end of this year is likely to be minimal.

Shortages had been predicted for November and the demand peak over the December festive season, but the industry believes the successful implementation of contingency plans means local producers will be able to supply nearly all of the market needs.

Millions of breeder birds have been culled to contain outbreaks of avian influenza (bird flu), resulting in a reduced supply of day-old chicks to produce mature chickens in November and December.

SAPA’s Izaak Breitenbach told the parliamentary portfolio committee on agriculture that the industry had taken a number of measures to increase the supply of chicks. These included producing more hatching eggs from older and younger breeder flocks, reducing hatching egg exports and the import of more than 53 million hatching eggs over the next six months.

In addition, producers had stocks of frozen chicken that would be released to the market, and local stocks would be boosted because neighbouring countries had banned the importation of South African chicken.

“This will completely cover any potential shortage after November 2023,” Breitenbach’s presentation  told the committee.

Demand for chicken drops off in January, and Breitenbach said supply and demand would be balanced from then onwards.