Research by a European agricultural university has rated South Africa as one of the world’s most efficient chicken producers.
Data for major chicken-producing countries is analysed every two years by the LEI research institute at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, which has been ranked the world’s top agricultural university for the past four years.
The most recent stats show that, although South Africa has slipped from being the fifth cheapest producer of slaughtered whole chickens to sixth, due to increased feed costs because of the drought, it produces chickens at lower prices than every EU country on the list.
The chief executive of the SA Poultry Association, Kevin Lovell, said there is no relationship between the cost of production in the EU countries, and the scale at which South Africa imports from them.
“Our producers are more efficient than theirs, even with the effects of the drought. The only way they can sell chicken in South Africa is by selling to importers below their cost of production,” Lovell said.
EU consumers prefer white breast meat and chicken wings, which are sold for premium prices, he said, adding that other portions, including leg quarters, are unwanted surplus and are sold off in bulk for any price producers can get.
“This is the basis of the chicken dumping, which has caused great harm to South African chicken producers, resulting in production cuts and job losses.
“The 2015 Wageningen data not only confirms the dumping argument. It also destroys the arguments of critics who claim that the South African industry’s woes are due to high feed costs because of the drought,” Lovell said.
This article first appeared in IOL on 4 May 2017