BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The poultry sector recorded a 19% slump last year after producing 73,6 million day-old chicks and demand for its products is projected to slow down going forward given the continued erosion of disposable incomes, an industry official has said.
In his latest update, Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) chairman Solomon Zawe noted that after the dramatic drop in broiler day-old chick production to 4,4 million in August, chick production showed partial recovery to 5,2 million chicks per month in the fourth quarter, being 35% lower than the fourth quarter of 2018.
He said chick prices continued to increase in the fourth quarter of 2019 and reached $9 per chick in December. However, in US$ dollar terms (based on the interbank rate), the price of day-old chicks was 54,37% lower than the early 2017 prices.
Zawe said depreciation of the local currency against the US dollar in the last quarter of 2019 continued to exert pressure on feed and day-old chick prices that were not matched by increases in consumer disposable incomes.
“However, demand remained strong, largely due to greater increases in prices of alternative livestock proteins, primarily beef, pork and fish. Going into 2020, demand for poultry products is projected to slow down given the continued erosion of disposable incomes,” ZPA said.
Inflationary pressures have seen the cost of living rising beyond the reach of many in the southern African nation as prices of basic commodities have more than quadrupled in recent months.
The poverty datum line shot up to $4 188 as at end of December 2019.
Zawe noted that total broiler growing and in-production breeding stocks continued to decline by 17% from a peak of 796 150 birds in May 2019 to 657 105 birds in December, which is similar to previous peak stock levels in 2016.
While in-production breeder stocks recovered to a second peak of 470 496 birds in October before declining by 16% to 393 071 birds in December, Zawe said growing stocks declined by 29% from a peak of 370 285 birds in May 2019 to 264 034 in December.
Local production of hatching eggs averaged 8,6 million per month in the fourth quarter of 2019, being 10% higher than the comparable period in 2018.
“Total annual production of hatching eggs in 2019 was a record high of 97 million. On the back of increased local production and softening demand for day-old chicks, there were no imports of hatching eggs in the fourth quarter of 2019 for the first time in the past seven years,” Zawe said.
Total broiler hatching eggs averaged 8,6 million per month in the period under review.
The number of birds processed by large-scale abattoirs was 1,8 million per month in the fourth quarter which was 24% lower than the same period in 2018.
Similarly, large-scale broiler meat production declined by 25% and 11% in fourth quarter of 2018 and third quarter of 2019, respectively.
Despite this decline, fourth quarter large-scale broiler meat production was the second highest ever recorded after 2018, Zawe said.
In contrast, fourth quarter small-scale broiler meat production estimated at 5 145 tonnes per month, represented decreases of 41% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.
Total meat production last year was estimated at 114 300 tonnes, being 20% lower than that of 2018, but similar to total estimated production in the years 2014 to 2016.
Large-scale meat production in 2019 was 39 100 tonnes which was 13% down on 2018, but the second highest volume recorded.
Production from the small-scale sector was estimated at 75 300 tonnes, 23% down on 2018, and the lowest since 2013.
“Wholesale prices continued to rise sharply each month, reflecting the local currency devaluation and increasing costs of inputs, particularly feeds,”