First US Chicken Shipments Since 2000 Reach South Africa

Chicken sourced from the United States is now back on grocery shelves in South Africa for the first time in nearly 17 years.

Five containers of US bone-in chicken leg quarters and drumsticks from Tyson Foods and House of Raeford Farms arrived at the Port of Durban on February 19, and were cleared by South African veterinary authorities on the 22nd. The chicken cuts have been repackaged under the Jwayelani Butcheries brand and are now for sale at the company’s 21 shops in and around Durban.

South Africa imposed prohibitive anti-dumping duties on imports of US bone-in chicken cuts in the year 2000, effectively closing the door on its market to American producers. Last year, however, President Barack Obama threatened to withhold trade benefits for South Africa under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) if markets to US chicken, beef and pork were not reopened in that country.

usapeec logoAn agreement negotiated between the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), and approved by their respective governments, established an annual import quota for US chicken cuts of 65,000 metric tons. The Obama Administration set a deadline of March 15 for South Africa to fully comply with the agreement on imports of poultry and other meats.

“We’re delighted to hear that the first shipment of US chicken under the agreement has landed and has met South Africa’s import requirements,” said USAPEEC President Jim Sumner. “We understand that several other shipments are en route and will arrive before March 15. We also believe that the quota amount for the period will be met.”

Federated Meat, the importing company of the initial shipment, praised the efficiency of the South African veterinary services staff at the port, and said it is happy to have US product back on the butchery shelves.

Zelda Sharp, USAPEEC’s representative in South Africa, said that more containers of US chicken are expected to arrive this week. “We’re most pleased that this market has finally reopened,” Sharp said. “USAPEEC has been committed to South Africa and we now have product on the shelves.”

Sharp said that USAPEEC and the US Embassy are planning to mark the event with a braai of US chicken. “We will be having the MOAB (mother of all braais) in the next couple of weeks,” she said.

Meanwhile, US pork approved for export to South Africa, includes a variety of raw and frozen products such as bellies, hams, loins, ribs and shoulders for unrestricted sale, and other products for further processing. South Africa previously placed restrictions on US pork imports to prevent the spread of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, despite the negligible transmission risk posed by US livestock.