Cape Town - While some might pull their nose up at the sight of walkie-talkies, chicken feet and giblets, the walkies are walking all the way to China.
A Western Cape firm has just secured a lucrative R300 million deal to export chicken feet to China, a delicacy in that country.
According to Wesgro the landmark deal to supply poultry delicacies to China by AskCarlaKote in collaboration with Wesgro and Standard Bank will also create 3 000 new jobs.
In a statement, Wesgro said the specialised trading consultancy is poised to deliver 540 tons of chicken feet each month, primarily partnering with women-owned poultry farms in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga.
Known locally as walkie-talkies there is a strong demand among Chinese consumers. Carla Kote, the founder of AskCarlaKote, said they are optimistic despite the bird flu outbreak in the country, which has temporarily delayed the deal's initiation.
“This deal holds enormous potential for South African poultry farmers and our clients. While we have experienced some delays due to the recent bird flu outbreak in the country, we are optimistic that once all regulatory hurdles have been addressed, we will be sending our first test order to China before the end of the year.
“This trade deal is the result of collaboration between Wesgro, Standard Bank, the farming sector, and my company. Standard Bank has pledged its support to enhance and grow the broilers and abattoirs within our supply chain.
“The agriculture departments in Mpumalanga and Western Cape have also thrown their full support behind this initiative.”
In addition, they have already received a second enquiry for supplying chicken feet to the Asian market.
Wesgro said Chinese consumers have a robust demand for chicken feet, with about 50% of the country's annual chicken imports consisting of the delicacy. In China, chicken feet are incorporated into soups, stews, and served as snacks.
Historically, the Asian giant has sourced most of its chicken feet from Brazil, Vietnam, and the US.
Wesgro CEO, Wrenelle Stander, said the agreement is a significant achievement for the South African poultry industry.
“With its potential to create thousands of jobs and bolster the regional economy, this deal stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation in driving economic growth.
“Our mission at Wesgro is to support businesses in driving economic growth and job creation across the city and province. This deal is a significant milestone towards achieving these goals,” she said.
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC, Mireille Wenger, said this is a deal to be proud of.
“This significant export deal is exactly the kind of expansion that we are proud to have played a part in enabling, supporting many jobs in this province and beyond, to bring benefits for all.”
Wesgro said the partnership was formed during a B2B matchmaking event where a Chinese company expressed keen interest in importing chicken feet.
Luthando Vuba, the head of international trade at Standard Bank said: “Our goal as the Standard Bank Group is to play this meaningful role of partnering African businesses for growth and playing a leading role when it comes to opening up opportunities in the world’s largest markets such as China, and to do so with strategic partners such as Wesgro, really helps us deliver this goal more sharply, grow these businesses and impact the communities in which they operate.”
For farmer, Lebohang Dhludhlu, one of the farmers within AskCarlaKote's network of suppliers, the deal provides him with an opportunity to scale up his business.
“This is a great initiative to empower farmers, including myself, to scale up commercially. I look forward to this opportunity and growth.”
Khaya Bruwana, a Western Cape poultry farmer, echoed the sentiment, saying: “The potential for growth of my broiler farm and others in the Western Cape in partnership with AskCarlaKote and under Lebohang Dhludhlu’s guidance has given me hope for the future of the poultry industry.”