Updated 01 April 2016

Unwanted American chicken dumped in South Africa

The American chicken that is once again being sold in South Africa reportedly consists of unwanted portions, which are dumped at rock bottom prices, threatening the livelihoods of South African producers.

For the first time in 15 years American chicken is now being sold in South Africa.

According to a report by eNCA the chicken landed in the country over the weekend and has been on supermarket shelves since Tuesday.

This brings to a close the long dispute about selling American chicken in South Africa. In June last year South Africa agreed to the tariff free import of 65 000 metric tons of American chicken.  

Avian flu

It was a condition of South Africa’s inclusion in the new African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that chicken, pork and beef from the USA be welcomed in this country.  

Afterwards there were however long negotiations about ensuring that the imported chicken be untainted by avian flu, which was prevalent in certain American states.  

Read: New avian flu viruses send US scientists scrambling

According to Michael Froman, the US Trade Representative, 12 freight containers, each with 27 tons of chicken arrived in South Africa over the weekend – and has already been distributed.

US President Barack Obama gave South Africa until 15 March to remove obstacles preventing American meat imports, otherwise the tariff free import of South African agricultural products into the US would be cancelled.  

It is generally expected that this obstruction will be removed without delay. 

Sold in Durban

The first chicken imported from The USA is apparently being sold mainly in Durban and surrounding areas.

Frozen drumsticks from Tyson Foods and House of Raeford Farms in North Carolina are sold under the trademark Jwayelani at the local supermarket group’s 21 outlets in and around Durban. This is according to tweets by the two “chicken senators”, Chris Coons from Dela­ware and Johnny Isakson from ­Georgia.

These two senators were at the head of the insistence that South Africa first drop its anti-dumping tariffs on frozen American chicken pieces before enjoying any advantages in terms of the reviewed African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Read: Cape poisoning followed food dumping

These first imports in 15 years mean that the protracted “chicken war” between South Africa and America is almost over. Local exporters of wine, citrus and macadamia nuts can once again relax about their lucrative American market.  

A SABC News article reports that South Africa can expect 65 million kilograms of American chicken annually for the next nine years as part of the AGOA agreement. reports that South Africa now consumes about 2.9 million tonnes of poultry, beef and pork meat per annum, with poultry meat consumption representing more than 60% of total meat consumption.

Chicken may contain arsenic

American chicken producers prefer chicken breast meat and wings and regard the leg quarter, i.e. the thigh and the drum, as by-products. They are exporting these pieces to South Africa at “dumping” prices. This means that for many South African chicken farmers it is a threat to their livelihoods and those of their employees.   

Rising costs in producing chickens and increased international competition make it difficult for local farmers to produce chicken at profitable prices or even stay in business.

According to the SABS News article some South African farmers are buying imported chicken and reselling it to South Africans. This results in lost jobs and lower quality chicken for the local market. Chicken from America, by the time it reaches South African consumers, will be six weeks older than locally produced chicken. What’s even worse is that the FDA has admitted that more than 70% of their chicken contains arsenic, used to promote the health and growth of the birds.

Injected with brine

Another negative spinoff of cheap imported chicken is that it may force local producers to increase brine percentages in their chicken just to make ends meet.

Read: Brine levels in chicken too high

Brine injection into chickens was introduced in South Africa more than ten years ago to make the chicken soft and add weight.

In some popular supermarkets some chicken products had brine levels of up to 30% which means a customer is receiving less than what they are paying for – the rest is just salt water.

In South Africa there is no prescribed limit for brine injection for individual quick frozen (IQF) portions, which negatively affects the nutritional quality and increases the salt content of the product. High salt intake in South Africa is one of the leading causes of ill health. 

Read more:

Check the chicken

Starvation and food dumping

Cheap chicken imports affecting the poultry industry

This article was translated and adapted from 2 Netwerk24 articles (see below).


NETWERK24: Amerikaanse hoender nou in SA te koop (2016).

ENCA: First US chickens hit SA supermarkets (2016).

NETWERK24: Waar kan jy Amerikaanse hoender koop? (2016).

SABS News: South Africa a dumping site for American poultry, says SA farmer (2016).,-says-SA-farmer-20161303

Health24: Chicken warning for SA consumers (2012).


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