Home South African Poultry abattoirs forced to discard uncooled chickens due to load shedding

Poultry abattoirs forced to discard uncooled chickens due to load shedding

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The losses due to load shedding is material, and doesn’t even begin to factor in the products that don’t make it to the market in time.

The poultry industry is expecting to count the costs of the higher stages of load shedding, as extended power outages force abattoirs to discard chickens not sufficiently cooled in the appropriate window period. Picture: Supplied

THE POULTRY industry is expecting to count the costs of the higher stages of load shedding, as extended power outages force abattoirs to discard chickens not sufficiently cooled in the appropriate window period.

The South African Poultry Association (Sapa) explained yesterday that the bulk of poultry farmers used coal-driven solutions to keep their chicks warm, and to a lesser extent, gas-powered solutions.

In a response to enquiry, Sapa said abattoirs had a much tougher time during periods of load shedding though, as they were big consumers of electricity.

Sapa spokesperson Alex de Coning said each carcass needs to be cooled to below 7°C within 45 minutes of being slaughtered and thereafter the  meat is cut, and the product was either put in cold storage or a freezer.

He said many companies use generators, but continuously running these generators costs a lot of money – as a rule of thumb,  an abattoir that slaughters 1 million birds per week spent about R100,000 each hour that they were running generators.

“Companies that do not have generators can have up to 10,000 birds hanging on shackles in the abattoir, not being processed. These birds are lost and disposed of during load shedding due to the lack of cooling, and potential food safety issues.

“Therefore, the losses due to load shedding is material, and doesn’t even begin to factor in the products that don’t make it to the market in time,” De Coning said.

According to popular load shedding app EskomSePush, South Africa had experienced 2881 hours of load shedding in 2022, which works out to about four months of continuous rotational power outages, not taking into account the current spike to Stage 6 load shedding.

In its annual report on Thursday, poultry information facilitator, Fairplay, said failing infrastructure – electricity, water, roads and rail – was hampering poultry production, adding to costs and could make exports uncompetitive. “The state’s infrastructure requires urgent attention…

This was an issue for all master plan signatories,and should be the subject of a note from them to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Cabinet.Small-scale farmers are disproportionately affected by failing infrastructure and rolling blackouts to the extent that they are unlikely to survive unless something is done to assist them on these issues,” it said.

Fairplay said there were numerous other issues plaguing the industry and that energy and infrastructure were vital for the state to look into.

Founder and CEO of XA International Trade Advisors Donald Mackay, said the various sector issues almost paled in comparison to the need for an efficient energy supply for the poultry industry.

“Investors prefer to invest in countries that have working infrastructure, because they are more competitive in those countries and the shareholders of companies are quite picky about competitiveness. So poor infrastructure equals poor levels of investment,” he said.

Fairplay said the playing field in the industry needed to be levelled by getting the poultry master plan in place.

Fairplay founder, Francois Baird, said the poultry master plan was way behind schedule and that signatories need to identify priority areas where the most could be achieved in the shortest time.

The industry is also calling for the implementation of anti-dumping duties against Brazil and four other countries that Department of Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel suspended in August, which it said is harming the local poultry industry – from the large producers to small-scale farmers.

The industry has called for the restructuring of chicken import tariffs, the elimination of VAT on chicken cuts most consumed by the mass market, as well as the implementation of small-scale farmer development programmes.

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