S. Africa's Poultry Industry Sees Brine Rules Hurting Profit

  • Government caps brine levels in individual cuts, whole birds
  • Rules aren't `economically realistic,' industry lobby says

South African poultry producers said new restrictions on brine-injected chicken portions will hurt the industry and be hard to enforce.

Individual cuts of chicken can comprise 15 percent of fat and salt solutions, injected in a process known as brining, the country’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said this month in a statement. The government previously hadn’t put a limit on brine-injected portions, it said. Brine can make up as much as 10 percent of whole birds, up from 8 percent previously, according to the department.

“We want regulations that are technically valid, enforceable and economically realistic,” South African Poultry Association Chief Executive Officer Kevin Lovell said in an e-mailed response to questions on Tuesday. “The current draft does not fit those criteria. Our business will get smaller and sell less, then the price will start to rise in the supermarkets where people buy.”

The agriculture department also ordered that product labels accurately describe what’s been added to the poultry and that testing be done once a year on water uptake levels and injection limits. The new requirements are being phased in over six months, it said.

RCL Foods Ltd., South Africa’s largest chicken producer, rose 1.9 percent to 16.32 rand in at 10:01 a.m. in Johannesburg, while Astral Foods Ltd. gained 0.3 percent to 176 rand. Quantum Foods Holdings Ltd. advanced 0.8 percent to 3.63 rand.

The changes to the country’s existing Poultry Meat Regulations were published in the government gazette on Oct. 2, the department said.

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