The South African government has laid out plans to aid the poultry industry, which its department of trade and industry described as being in crisis.
“A Poultry Sector Task Team established by the South African government to deal with the crisis in the domestic poultry industry has secured significant progress across a number of work-streams, to develop a common response to the complex challenges facing the domestic industry,” said the DTI in a statement.
The industry has been struggling with an inflated import market, particularly frozen chicken portions arriving in bulk from the EU, the US and South America, driving domestic prices down to unsustainable levels. Major processors including RCL Foods and Astral Foods have seen profits driven down in the past year.
The Task Team is comprised of representatives of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Economic Development and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, as well as the Industrial Development Corporation. The sector industry association, Poultry South Africa and representatives of the poultry producers represent business. Labour is represented by the leadership of the Food and Allied Workers Union, (FAWU).
The work-streams established by the Task Team to process a range of possible short and longer- term interventions including trade measures; health and quality issues; competitiveness; industry growth; financing; incentives and demand side interventions.
“As soon as the necessary technical work has been completed for the short-term interventions, the Task Team will submit, for final ratification, a set of short-term and shared interventions,” the DTI said. “These proposals will be submitted to the Ministers concerned and the broader leadership of business and labour involved in the poultry sector.
“In the interim and as such time as shared ameliorative and support measures can be instituted, government appeals to the industry to do everything possible to prevent any plant closures and retrenchments.”