Country Bird Holdings, a South Africa-based firm, has lost sales revenue of at least 600 tonnes of chickens a month to Zimbabwe following the imposition of the ban of its products by the country’s authorities.
The company, whose Supreme Poultry unit last year said it reworked chickens by thawing, washing, injecting with brine and refreezing them, says the practice conforms with food health standards and is widespread throughout the industry.
The company has since accused Zimbabwe of being “uncompetitive” hence the move to ban the company’s chicken exports to the country.
Zimbabwe banned chicken imports from Country Bird after press reports said the company was exporting expired products which posed a health risk.
Financial director for the company Robbie Taylor told SA media that the Zimbabwean exports account for the lion’s share of Country Bird’s total monthly exports of just more than 1 000 tonnes.
Zimbabwe traditionally is a poultry exporter, but became a net chicken importer after controversial land reforms that saw production levels plummet to unprecedented levels.
“They don’t need an excuse. They close the border for every single reason they can find. They are not competitive,” Taylor said.
Taylor said while imports of chickens from Country Bird were blocked, other South African suppliers had not been blocked.
The issue of reworked chickens raises the question of whether there is sufficient disclosure about the processing of frozen chickens.
Taylor said his company’s disclosure practices met all required standards, and he would be “happy” to put as much information on packaging as customers wanted, provided the same requirements applied to all players in the industry.
He said chicken importers, which supply about 15% of the South African market with products brought in from Brazil and Argentina, should also be subject to the same disclosure requirements.