In March 2016‚ US chicken imports were allowed into South Africa after a protracted trade came to an end following a long standoff.
It was the first time since 2000 when South Africa first imposed anti-dumping duties on American beef, pork, and chicken products in what became known as the ‘chicken war’.
For years, the two countries argued over the popular protein with South African government refusing to allow chicken imports from the US. The White House however in response threatened to suspend Pretoria’s trade benefits.
South Africa was not budged until President Barack Obama suspended a lucrative African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and hinged its continuity on the allowance of chicken imports.
The AGOA benefits about 40 sub-Saharan African nations with South Africa benefiting the most; the US Department of Commerce puts South African exports to the US at $8.3 billion, and South Africa’s imports from the US at $5.5 billion in 2014, according to the US embassy in South Africa.
For this reason, it is easy to see why the government of South Africa gave in, but though the chicken imports to South Africa are starting up again, a lot of South Africans won’t eat the American meat.
A Facebook post in March which went viral alleged that a particular chicken brand whose price had been marked way down was an attempt by America to sell poisonous chicken to the not so well-to-do in the society.
Even Nando a popular chain of chicken restaurants that prides itself on freshness, refuses to add the American chicken to their meals. Geoff Whyte, the CEO of Nando’s South Africa, said in a statement cited by The Times;
“Nando’s is proudly South African. The American poultry that has landed in South Africa does not find its way into your Nando’s meal”.
Nando’s move in the chicken war is especially surprising considering the company’s 31 US locations, in the cities and surrounding suburbs of Washington DC and Chicago, have been key to its international expansion. It would seem that the company feels it is more necessary however to show loyalty to its home base.
The chicken war in South Africa often ignores the fact that South African chicken is not also the fresh, running fowl some consumers imagine.
News24 recently ran an article citing expert views on how the local poultry industry is plumping frozen chicken pieces up by injecting them with brine. So it would seem South Africa’s citizens cannot win the chicken war both with the US and even their own local poultry industry.