Not very much becomes enough for a crisis

Suddenly, chicken importers have changed their messaging. Again.

For years they have downplayed the impact of imports on the local market. Chicken imports are “only 20%” of the market, they said, in effect asking what the fuss is all about. They conveniently ignore the fact that other countries have far lower import levels, and that the European Union keeps it to below 7%.

Now that they want container loads of frozen chicken cleared through Durban in a hurry, they maintain that those imports are essential to South Africa’s food security. They tell the government that, without this imported chicken, there could be a “national food crisis”.

What they are claiming is that South Africa has become dangerously dependent on chicken imports. Given harbour disruptions, including Transnet’s cyber attack, that’s an argument for less imports, not more.

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