Chicken Industry

Offal imports spark concerns

As South Africa’s imports of bone-in chicken such as leg quarters decline, so shipments of chicken offal (feet, livers, heads etc) have risen. Import graphs for the past five years would be mirror images, with one going up and the other down.

Is there a connection? Local poultry producers don’t know, but are worried by the fact that the 30% import duties on offal are less than half of the duties that apply to bone-in portions. Furthermore, offal imports have climbed since March 2020, when duties on bone-in chicken went up from 37% to 62%.

The numbers are interesting. Bone-in imports have been declining since 2018, and have dropped from a peak of 287 000 tonnes then to 91 000 tonnes in 2022.

Offal imports have risen sharply over the same period, climbing from 43 000 tonnes in 2017 and 49 000 tonnes in 2018 to reach 68 000 tonnes last year. And they jumped from 2020 onwards when higher bone-in tariffs were introduced.

Are consignments of bone-in portions being wrongly labelled, by mistake or otherwise, reducing import revenues by half and more? The landed price of chicken offal can be half of the price of leg quarters, so the import duty would be a much lower percentage of a much lower import price.

Perhaps this is something that the poultry master plan task team should investigate. The team includes representatives of the SA Revenue Services (SARS), who are there to ensure that the proper duties and taxes are paid on chicken imports.