South Africa

South African chicken supply threatened by rampant bird flu

South African poultry companies are facing losses following the outbreak of a highly pathogenic avian influenza in the northern parts of the country. 

Egg producer Quantum Foods Holdings on Friday said the disease has so far affected approximately 1.5 million of its layer and breeding stock, which have an estimated value of R106 million.

Astral Foods, which owns brands such as Country Fair and Goldi Chicken, said its total cost associated with the current outbreak amounts to about R220 million.

Both companies warned that they will report a loss for the year through Sept. 30.

RCL Foods’ Rainbow Chicken said eight of its 19 farms in the Gauteng province have been affected by the outbreak. The current cost to the business is estimated at about R100 million, with 330,000 birds affected so far, the company said in an emailed response to questions.

Avian influenza, also known as avian flu or bird flu, usually affects wild birds but can sometimes infect commercial or domestic poultry.

While it rarely causes disease in humans, according to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, there’s no treatment for the birds, and the government requires farmers to cull poultry to control its spread. 

Vaccines exist for the disease, but they aren’t available in South Africa, and the industry is still negotiating with the government on how to address that issue, according to Abongile Balarane, general manager for the South African Poultry Association’s egg organization.

The association is working on an estimate for the cost of the outbreak on the whole sector, he said. 


Top JSE indices