Wild Nature

published : 2023-09-29

South African Poultry Producer Culls 410,000 Chickens Amid Avian Flu Outbreak, Fears of Shortages Loom

The Development Raises Concerns About Potential Shortages of Chicken Meat and Eggs

A group of healthy chickens in a South African poultry farm, taken with a Nikon D850.

South Africa's RCL Foods announced on Thursday that its poultry unit, Rainbow, has taken the drastic measure of culling 410,000 chickens due to the country's worst outbreak of avian flu.

This Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) spreads rapidly within an infected flock, resulting in a high death rate.

Unfortunately, the outbreak has already taken its toll on table egg supplies in the country, and chicken meat shortages could be imminent in the coming weeks.

Rainbow, being one of South Africa's largest chicken producers, plays a crucial role in supplying retailers and fast food businesses.

A close-up shot of an avian flu virus under a microscope, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

The rapid pace at which the outbreak is spreading is causing the situation to constantly evolve, posing significant challenges for efforts to contain it.

In light of the culling, RCL Foods estimates a financial impact of $5.99 million, underlining the severity of the situation.

The company is taking decisive steps to address potential supply disruptions, but acknowledges that tension looms in the supply chain.

Further compounding the issue, neighboring Namibia has already suspended poultry imports from South Africa in response to the bird flu outbreak.

A plate of delicious chicken meat and eggs, ready to be served, taken with a Sony a7 III.

Notably, South Africa predominantly relies on domestic consumption, with the country's poultry producers' association reporting that only 1% to 2% of production is exported.

To make matters worse, RCL's peers, including Astral Foods and Quantum Foods, have also been hit hard by the bird flu outbreak, exacerbating an already beleaguered sector coping with the country's electricity crisis and rising costs.