Chicken Industry

Straight talk from down under

Better understanding of how the anti-dumping duties will work was shown by David Wolpert, a former CEO of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters, where his successors are using scare stories to predict huge price increases.

Writing to Business Day all the way from Australia, Wolpert displayed calm wisdom compared to the histrionics of chicken importers.

He said chicken importers and media reports were warning of huge price increases “but in many cases these reports have not been well researched”.

“In four of the five affected exporting countries, some major exporters have been subjected to little or no dumping duties, so importers will still have plenty of opportunities to obtain supplies at favourable prices,” he said.

“Local poultry has been badly affected by the government’s crippling and chaotic handling of power, water and infrastructural issues. They should be compensated by subsidies which could be financed by the new dumping duties as well as a responsible effort at reducing corruption.

“As chicken is an essential form of protein, VAT zero rating is long overdue.”

Wolpert also raised a contributor to food price inflation that others haven’t mentioned – statutory agricultural levies of up to 5%.

“While there is no statutory levy on chicken, there are levies on chicken feed, and since chicken feed represents nearly 70% of the costs of rearing a chicken, it plays a significant role in its cost.

“While on this subject, these levies apply to many basic foods such as maize, eggs, milk, meat and potatoes. In our current economic climate they should be withdrawn to reduce prices to assist the millions of poor and unemployed South Africans,” Wolpert wrote.

Good on you, mate.