Poultry output down 28% in Q3

ZIMBABWE’S poultry sector recorded a 28% drop in output after producing about 16,8 million broiler day-old chicks in the third quarter of the year, with players attributing the decline to high input costs, an industry official has said.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) chairperson, Solomon Zawe said in the third quarter (July to September), broiler day-old chick production averaged 5,6 million chicks per month, which is 20% to 28% lower than the second quarter of 2019 and third quarter of last year, respectively.

Zawe said chick prices continued to increase in the period under review and reached $5,51 per chick in September. However, in US dollar terms, the prices remained unchanged.

“Depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar against the US dollar in the third quarter of 2019 continued to exert pressure on feed and day-old chick prices that were not matched by increases in consumer disposable incomes,” Zawe said.

“However, demand remained strong largely due to greater increases in prices of alternative livestock proteins, primarily beef, pork and fish,” he said.

The ZPA boss said dwindling stocks of maize coupled with restrictions on maize purchases from farmers brought about by the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019 implied that the feed sector will need to import maize which currently lands in the country at 36% higher than current producer price.

“Without increases in consumer purchasing power, this will further erode the margins from poultry production during the fourth quarter.”

“The reduced margins have already driven down the producer prices of both day-old chicks, broiler meat and table eggs to lower than prevailing prices in neighbouring countries in US dollar terms, prompting some breeders and farmers to explore export markets,” he said.

Going into the fourth quarter, Zawe said demand will be spurred by farmers building up stocks for the festive season. “However, going into first quarter of 2020, necessary upward adjustments to school fees to take into account local currency depreciation will likely have a more pronounced negative impact on demand for poultry products,” he said, adding that following the steady recovery of total broiler breeding stocks (growing and in-production) to 796 150 birds in May 2019, stocks declined by 11% to 705 046 birds in September, being similar to previous peak stock levels in 2013 and 2014. He said broiler breeder in-production stocks peaked at 499 415 birds in May, before declining to 366 539 birds in August and, thereafter, increasing to 415 887 birds in September, while growing stocks averaged 314 927 birds per month for the period May to September.

Returns from large-scale processors revealed that the number of birds slaughtered and broiler meat produced declined by 3% in the third quarter of 2019.

Although the meat produced from this sector declined by 12% compared with the third quarter of 2018, Zawe said it was still the second highest ever recorded. Small-scale broiler meat production estimated at 5 457 tonnes per month decreased by 36% compared to the same period last year.

“Consequently, a dramatic drop in both uptake and supply of broiler chicks has affected this sector,” Zawe said.

Total meat produced was estimated at 8 728mt per month, 29% lower than in the third quarter of 2018. Zawe added that from March this year, wholesale prices rose sharply each month, reflecting the local currency devaluation and increasing costs of inputs, particularly feeds.

Wholesale prices of whole bird and 2kg individually quick frozen pieces in September were $27,42 and $25,21 per kg, respectively.

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