The impact of bird flu on your pocket

Image: Pexels

In recent months, parts of South Africa were struck by a strain of the deadly avian influenza – or bird flu – virus.

Some of South Africa’s largest food producers have incurred millions of rands in losses from culling chickens due to the outbreak.

It is however only now showing its effects on the local poultry and ostrich industry – and thus the pocket of the consumer.

The ostrich industry will also be affected. Areas greatly affected in South Africa include Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Western Cape.

“Although the bird flu is countrywide, the drought-stricken Western Cape – which accounts for approximately 22 percent of the poultry numbers in South Africa – is likely to feel the effects of the virus the most,” said head of marketing and information for agriculture at FNB Business Dawie Maree.

Here is an explanation of how it is currently affecting consumers:

The confectionery (baking) industry will feel the pressure of the virus as it influences the price of eggs. The increase in prices due to the flu has potentially detrimental effects.

ALSO READ: UPDATE: Bird flu still prevalent

The animal feed industry will also be affected by a decrease in bird numbers since it translates into less demand for feed.

Consumers might struggle to get products that are affected, such as eggs and fresh chicken.

Eggs and chicken will have to be transported to supermarkets from afar at a tremendous cost.

Total poultry imports jumped 13 percent to 51 889 tons in September 2017, according to the latest SARS data. It is in fact up by 6 percent compared to the same month last year.

Effectively, the price of eggs is increasing, which is bad news for cash-strapped consumers.

“Producers who managed to stay in business through all of these challenges may have a better future ahead,” said Maree.

“Feed costs have decreased, with the exception of imports related to avian influenza. As soon as the bird flu issue has been sorted, they will be able to produce again.”


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Danielle Garrett
Digital Team

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