The new poultry sector master plan unveiled by trade, industry and competition minister Ebrahim Patel this week is a welcome blueprint. EPA

JOHANNESBURG - The new poultry sector master plan unveiled by trade, industry and competition minister Ebrahim Patel this week is a welcome blueprint to propel the industry ahead, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) said on Thursday.

The poultry industry has committed R1.5 billion towards the objectives of the plan, which was developed through negotiations between itself, the government, and stakeholders including farmers, processors, exporters, poultry importers and labour unions to create a framework for growth and sustainability.

“The process canvassed strategic inputs from all the relevant players, and it is to the credit of ministers Patel and Thoko Didiza (agriculture) that for the first time, we have a blueprint to take the industry forward,” said Izaak Breitenbach, general manager of SAPA’s Broiler Organisation.

South Africa's chicken industry has been beset by numerous challenges in recent years, including the cost of feed, barriers to exports as well as rising imports, mainly of bone-in chicken portions, from Brazil, the European Union and the United States.

Trade figures show that imports of broiler meat alone have increased by 73 percent over the past five years, which industry officials say has caused job losses and prevented the sector from expanding and transforming to meet growing consumer demand for chicken.

The objective of the master plan, which comes into effect immediately, include expanding local industry capacity and ensuring that locally produced products make up an increasingly larger proportion of consumption over time.

It aims to containment imports and apply trade measures to protect the local industry from unfair trade; stimulating an increase in the consumption of locally produced chicken while also driving the export of raw and cooked chicken products.

“The plan makes provision for addressing many unfair trade practices including dumping, and a number of food safety sins related to imports which has been of great concern to SAPA and the formal import sector for the potential dangers they pose to consumers,” Breitenbach said.

“This includes a review of the regulations governing the way in which imported chicken must be packed and labelled, and to prevent thawing of frozen meat and refreezing or selling as fresh, to ensure that imported chicken is equally traceable and conform to the same food-safety standards as locally produced chicken."

- African News Agency (ANA)