Chicken Industry

SA consumer watchdog taken to task for serving foreign interests

A South African consumer watchdog (SANCU) that used to be against predatory trading practices and should be more concerned about food safety issues has now come out in support of poultry importers that are dominated by foreign interests. SANCU has now lent its name to the campaign of Emerging Black Importers and Exporters South Africa (Ebiesa) on behalf of Brazilian chicken exporters.

Chicken importers in South Africa have long been the handmaidens of foreign interests. Among the leadership of South Africa’s meat importers are the head of marketing for the Brazil poultry producers, a representative of BRF, a Brazilian company that made headlines last year around the globe for a tainted meat scandal, and a representative of poultry producers in Ireland.

As noted in an opinion piece in IOL “While local producers are held to strict traceability requirements, imported chicken enters South Africa in frozen bulk packs and is allowed to be thawed and repacked with no more than a vague reference to its country or countries of origin.”

But beyond concerns over food safety what is more troubling is the lack of attention by SANCU to the massive mark-ups of chicken dumped into South Africa by foreign sources. Further, advocating for foreign supplies at the expense of local production, in the long run, makes South African consumers dependent on foreign food supplies only serving to undermine national food security.

Importers make enormous profits from dumped chicken. Unlike local chicken producers whose profits are spent on buying South African feed grains, employing tens of thousands of rural workers and investing in new technologies for the industry, the importers simply pocket the profits for themselves.

“Chicken production is not an urban enterprise. When opportunistic imports destroy jobs, the sustainability of the rural economy is directly endangered and food safety is compromised. If SANCU had announced, in the genuine interests of the consumer they purport to represent, a campaign to insist that the same strict safety protocols for imported chicken be applied as they are to locally-produced or had they announced a campaign to support SA chicken exports, they would be standing on the side of black chicken farmers and jobs for rural areas.” As it stands, SANCU stands with the predators.