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Fear of foreign chicken being dumped in SA leads to uproar by local farmers

| Supplier news

The fear of foreign chicken being dumped in South Africa's freezers has led to an uproar by local farmers, who want additional taxes on surplus European chicken being "sent to South Africa at leftover prices".

Frozen boned chicken from the US, Brazil and Argentina, as well as from Europe, is imported tax-free into South Africa under two trade pacts.

But imported frozen chicken is a lot more difficult to find than one would expect.

A search of Shoprite, Pick n Pay, Game and Woolworths stores in Johannesburg revealed that some of the cheapest frozen chicken is South African, with a 5kg bag selling for R99 at Shoprite.

Pick n Pay sells mostly domestically produced chicken, along with some European chicken.

Pick n Pay butchery general manager Ian Crook said the retail chain did not import chicken from the US.

"We do import very small quantities of frozen chicken from Europe and South America, and these are labelled with their country of origin. Over 95% of all our groceries are locally produced," he said.

Woolworths sells "organic" US chicken.

But imported chicken was available at Cambridge food stores, with its Randburg outlet selling imported chicken for as little as R27/kg for drumsticks and 10kg of frozen legs for R285.

The label says the chicken originates from either the UK, the Netherlands, Brazil, Canada or Spain.

It seems that size matters when it comes to imported chicken, with Game stores stocking 5kg bags of frozen chicken from Argentina packaged in South Africa.

Most retailers said they preferred to buy local chicken but demand sometimes forced them to procure globally.

Shoprite said: "The reality is that a constant high demand for poultry outstrips supply in South Africa."

The company said less than 10% of its chicken was from abroad.

Fast-food outlets KFC and Nando's use only South African chicken.

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