Photographer: Ezra Bailey/Getty Images

Country Bird to Close S. Africa Plant on EU Chicken Imports

Country Bird Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s third-largest chicken producer, will close one of its three abattoirs as the local industry struggles to compete with cheap European imports that it argues amount to dumping.

The company will close its facility in Mahikeng, in the North West province, in the absence of increased government protection against the imports, Country Bird Chief Executive Officer Marthinus Stander said by phone Thursday. The company notified employees last year about the planned closure, he said.

South African farmers and labor unions say the European Union is selling chicken legs, thighs and wings at below cost, pushing the local industry to the brink of collapse, and have asked the government to increase protection. The EU has in turn accused South Africa of unfairly protecting its chicken industry with import duties that mask local producers’ inability to compete in global markets.

Click here for more on the chicken fight rocking South Africa-Europe trade relations

The South African Poultry Association told lawmakers this week that chicken imports should be reduced by at least half, according to a presentation provided by the group’s CEO, Kevin Lovell.

Country Bird ended its listing on the Johannesburg bourse in December 2014.

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