S.African retailer SPAR exploring egg imports as bird flu hits supplies

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Grocery retailer SPAR Group is exploring potentially importing eggs from several southern African countries as South Africa’s worst outbreak of avian flu hits egg supplies and threatens the supply of chicken meat.

South Africa is currently grappling with an outbreak of a high-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), a bird flu which spreads rapidly in an infected flock causing a high death rate.

Producers have warned of chicken meat shortages in the coming weeks after millions of chickens were killed by the outbreak.

Meanwhile grocery retailers Woolworths and Pick n Pay are limiting the amount of eggs shoppers can buy due to limited stock availability.

SPAR is working closely with its approved private label suppliers and partners to secure stock and also “actively collaborating with bigger suppliers and exploring new opportunities to ensure a consistent egg supply and further reduce risk,” Jacques Roets, divisional commodities manager for the SPAR Group said.

“This diversification strategy includes discussions with several southern African countries to potentially import eggs,” Roets added.

Last week, RCL Foods said its poultry unit Rainbow culled 410,000 chickens, while its peers, including the country’s largest integrated poultry processor Astral Foods and Quantum Foods, said the outbreak was ravaging a sector already burdened by South Africa’s electricity crisis and rising costs.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)