Hungry in south africa, food being served.

South Africa’s largest poultry group, Astral Foods, has issued a warning about the deteriorating water infrastructure and power outages, stating that it puts the country at risk of becoming dependent on food imports.

This situation particularly affects the poorest segments of the population, who are vulnerable to the volatility of the rand. The company emphasized the importance of profitability in the food sector to ensure continuous food production for the nation.

Astral Foods recently reported a significant drop in first-half profit, highlighting the challenges faced by the industry. The company’s concerns extend to food security, social tension, and the potential for political instability and policy uncertainty in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

Is Brazil no longer a Plan B?

Brazil has declared a state of animal health emergency due to an avian flu outbreak that is currently limited to wild birds. However, concerns have arisen that the outbreak could spread to poultry, which could have significant consequences for South Africa. Brazil is the largest exporter of chicken meat globally and supplies a substantial amount of chicken consumed in South Africa.

If the avian flu crisis affects Brazil’s poultry industry, it could result in a shortage of chicken and cause prices to soar. Additionally, jobs in the poultry sector may be at risk. The South African poultry industry heavily depends on imports from Brazil, and any halt in poultry imports would occur immediately if Brazil is affected by avian influenza. Currently, South Africa has sufficient poultry stock in cold storage for the next four months.

Import restrictions & export focus.

Progress has been made under the Red Meat Strategy 2030, which aims to enhance sustainability, market access, and industry competitiveness.

The industry aims to increase exports and market access while retaining the local market and meeting international standards. Olivier expressed hope for improvement in red meat exports, particularly with increased interest from Saudi Arabia and Brazil.

The implementation of the Red Meat Strategy 2030 is expected to have positive impacts for exports. Supporting emerging farmers is seen as crucial for the industry’s future, and South Africa’s membership in the Brics group presents further opportunities.

While South Africans go hungry

New data from Statistics SA and African Bank highlights the significant food shortages and hunger experienced by households in South Africa. According to Stats SA, 2.1 million households (11.6% of the total) experienced hunger in 2021, with nearly 700,000 of them having children under the age of five.

The high unemployment rate, energy crisis, and rising living costs were identified as factors contributing to the problem. Additionally, African Bank’s research revealed that almost half of people with no income and 47% of those with a monthly income of R1 to R4,999 reported food shortages within a month. Even households with at least one employed member faced food insecurity.

The data suggests that the situation could worsen with the rapid increase in food prices caused by supply chain disruptions. The lack of sufficient funds to purchase enough food and limited access to basic groceries were cited as major reasons for food insecurity. The findings underscore the urgent need for measures to address food shortages and improve financial stability for households in South Africa.

Food insecurity & riots

Food insecurity was even cited as one of the reasons behind the July 2021 riots in certain regions. While the country’s agricultural exports thrive, malnutrition and food insecurity persist among the population.

Another study, Source:, revealed high levels of social vulnerability and food insecurity in the country. Approximately 20.6% of the sample were socially vulnerable, and 20.4% experienced food insecurity, amounting to around 7.8 million people out of the total sample size of 39.6 million. Vulnerability and food insecurity were particularly prevalent among Africans, females, rural residents, individuals with low socioeconomic status, those without high school education, and adults over 45 years old.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email