South African poultry producer Quantum Foods on Friday said nearly 2 million chickens worth R106 million ($5.63 million) have been killed by a bird flu outbreak, increasing fears of a table egg and meat shortage.
A leading poultry producer on the continent, South Africa is currently grappling with an outbreak of a high-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), a bird flu which spreads rapidly in an infected flock causing a high death rate.
Quantum said in a trading update it had lost nearly 1.5 million of its laying and breeding birds during the current bird flu outbreak, to add to 420,000 laying chickens lost during an earlier wave of infections in April.
The company expects to report an economic loss in the year to 30 September as the viral disease compounds operational problems caused by South Africa's frequent power cuts.
"The overall impact of the HPAI outbreak on the South African poultry industry, and its full financial effect on the company, is not yet known as this will be dependent on, inter alia, the volume of eggs available for sale going forward," Quantum said.
On Thursday, South Africa's largest integrated poultry producer Astral Foods said the country, which is already experiencing a shortage of table eggs, could be short of chicken meat in the coming weeks due to the bird flu outbreak and the power crisis.