The imports crisis that went away

July’s poultry import statistics do not show any major impact from the riots and the cyber-attack that hampered Durban’s imports capability for a short period at the end of July.

At the time, meat importers pleaded for a special dispensation to bring in containers of frozen poultry stuck at the port. They warned of a “national food crisis” because damage to inspection facilities, cold stores and other infrastructure was holding up meat imports.

There was no “national food crisis”, and chicken imports did not take a major knock. They were down 3.5% on June, which in turn had been up 30% on May. July imports – 37 404 tonnes – were 11% up on July a year ago.

Poultry imports have been rising and falling all year, presumably because of Covid-19 disruptions to production, distribution and consumer demand.

During the first seven months of this year, imports increased on a monthly basis in February, March and June, and declined in the other four months.

The July dip fits into that pattern, and if port disruptions had any effect, it was a nudge, not a push.

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