Food security is a big topic at the moment with a number of developments that indicate a bumpy ride ahead.
The biggest threat to the affordability of poultry is the worldwide Avian influenza (AI) outbreak.
The US was just recovering from its largest AI outbreak in history last month when AI was detected in several Latin American countries. It seems only a matter of time before it occurs in Brazil. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of poultry worldwide, and AI in Brazil will create a world-wide poultry shortage. Closer to home, AI in the Western Cape will lead to local shortages and price increases.
One of Brazil’s exports to us is MDM (Mechanically Deboned Meat) which is the processed poultry that goes into our vienna sausages and polonies. This is entirely imported as we do not manufacture this ourselves. A Brazilian AI outbreak would immediately impact production of local processed meats. One importer is appealing to the industry to start talking about a way to mitigate the impact by treating MDM with heat.
Another option to mitigate the effect of AI worldwide, is the development of an affordable vaccine, which is currently being investigated in the US.
Back home again, the price of eggs is also rising – but this time because of the Eskom tariff increases. And soon it will not only be eggs, as other agricultural sectors also begin to feel the effect of more expensive electricity.
As a result of the looming chicken shortage in South Africa, the US has been able to negotiate a larger export quota of poultry to South Africa.
This will bring relief to SA consumers. And the increasing importance of poultry worldwide is also creating an opportunity for South Africa farmers to produce the ingredients of chicken feed for export – it’s a worldwide trend.