One of the largest food producers in South Africa confirmed on Wednesday that it had suffered a R26 million in losses from culling their chickens due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza. The virus has been detected at their Heuningdal breeder farm which is in the Western Cape, between Malmesbury and Darling, this was after having experienced a small outbreak in their Viva breeder in their Muldersdrift in Gauteng as well.
They said poultry at both sites had been culled, resulting in a loss amounting to approximately 5% of the company’s total breeder stock. Government is considering vaccination to stop the spread of bird flu. The company is currently doing evaluations on all opportunities to minimise the possible impact of this reduced volume. Avian influenza has been known to affect humans, therefore, there is great concern from the chicken consumption perspective.
RCL Foods manufactures a wide range of private label and branded food products, which include chicken products through its Farmer Brown and Rainbow brands. The group employs about 20 000 people in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Swaziland.
Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said at a media briefing earlier this month that highly pathogenic avian influenza of the strain H5N8 was first detected in the Western Cape on August 9. The strain has been identified in other parts of the country.