With egg shortages being reported in several parts of the country due to the outbreak of bird flu, some retailers have started rationing consumers, with Woolworths reportedly only allowing six eggs per customer at this stage.
The outbreak of avian influenza has wreaked havoc in the poultry industry, with the price of eggs and chicken also expected to skyrocket, which means chicken may be off the menu this Christmas.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development a total of 50 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7 outbreaks and 10 HPAI H5 outbreaks have been reported in the country, with 37 HPAI H7 cases confirmed in Gauteng.
The number of chickens that have died is 107 705, while the reported number of chickens that were culled is 1 318 521.
“Based on these reported figures, there has been a total loss of 1 426 226 chickens,” the department said.
The reported number of chickens that have died of HPAI H5 is 98 249, while the reported number of chickens that were culled is 1 156 283, bringing the total loss of 1 254 532 chickens.
Minister Thoko Didiza met with the retailers on Monday to discuss the impact of the disease on the industry.
This follows a meeting held with the South African Poultry Association last Friday and engagements that have been taking place between government officials and the industry.
During the meeting, Didiza briefed retailers on the containment measures that have been taken to limit the spread of the disease, as well as possible solutions to manage such outbreaks in the short and the medium-term, including vaccinations.
The Department says the main challenge is primarily on the egg production side, where there are supply constraints in some regions of the country.
In response to this challenge, the Minister is focusing on measures to improve the availability of egg supply to consumers and simultaneously putting measures to contain the spread of the disease.
Import permits will also be issued for egg products to ensure sufficient supplies for consumers.
In addition, the Minister is looking at the possibility of vaccination and currently reviewing applications by various suppliers.
On the broiler side, Didiza and Trade, Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel, are assessing some trade instruments to ease the supply of chicken meat.