The South African Association (Sapa) is ringing alarm bells again, threatening that the industry might shed even more jobs unless something is done about imports from the EU.

It has also warned of severe infringements of labelling and packaging legislation at various retailers.

Nevertheless, it is coming under fire from emerging farmers who claim it is not doing enough to allocate funds to encourage the participation of smallholder farmers in the local poultry market.

The association has been involved in a battle to restrict cheap Brazilian chicken imports for two years since reports from the International Trade Administration Commission claimed that these were being sold in the South African market at margins of between 40 percent and 60 percent.

It argues that South Africa is “among the least protected in the world, resulting in EU countries such as the Netherlands, the UK and Germany taking advantage of this to dump massive quantities of cheap chicken”.

However, yesterday, the Developing Poultry Farmers Organisation lambasted Sapa, which is its parent body, for not being serious about transformation, even when the industry had netted more than R4.1 billion in revenue in previous years.

Justice Zotwa, the national chairman of the developing farmers’ organisation, said that Sapa’s financial statements had claimed that R22 million of the R4.1bn had been earmarked to advance the interests of the emerging farmers. Zotwa claimed, however, that none of the smallholder farmers in any of the nine provinces had seen a cent of these funds.

These funds were meant to address issues such as new entrant development, transformation and market access. “No meaningful intervention has taken place with any new entrant farmer,” he said, adding that this was the situation despite tariffs being imposed on Brazilian imports.

However, Sol Motsepe, a senior executive at the association, said that seven major commercial producers had been liquidated while other companies were undergoing business rescue which had resulted in more than 100 jobs being lost last year.

“Import volumes have not changed significantly after the tariff increases on imported chicken from Brazil… The possibilities are that the industry will shed some jobs in the near future as companies attempt to survive. More imports are still coming from the European Union countries at an alarming rate. In 2012, the production of poultry meat in the EU was almost 13 million tons of which 77 percent was broiler meat,” he explained.

Commenting on the retail aspect, Motsepe said evidence gathered at retail level showed a very different picture.

“There is inadequate labelling on products and independent tests on imported poultry have yielded some alarming results,” he said.

Health Department regulations state that all food imported and sold in South Africa must be labelled with detailed compositional information to ensure consumers receive adequate information before purchase so that the public is not misled by producers.