• More than three million pigs were slaughtered last year - a record number.
  • Due to the listeriosis crisis, some small farmers received pork prices as low as R10/kg, an industry expert says.
  • The price of polony is currently higher than before the crisis.

A record 3.1 million pigs were slaughtered in South Africa last year after listeriosis wreaked havoc in the pork industry.

In March last year, the department of health in March linked an Enterprise processed meats factory in Polokwane to a listeriosis outbreak, which killed more than 200 people.

As polony was pulled off shelves across the country, and alarmed consumers lost their appetite for pork, prices plummeted.

The prices pork producers received dropped from R28/kg to R18kg, with some smaller farmers reporting prices as low as R10, the agricultural news platform Landbou.com reported, quoting Johann Kotzé, CEO of the South African Pork Producers' Organisation. Kotzé recently addressed an agricultural conference convened by FNB.

Pork prices fell in stores as well, and at one stage pork was cheaper than chicken. Almost 200,000 more pigs were slaughtered last year than in 2017, as farmers tried to make up for lost income due to lower prices. 

Read: Enterprise Polony is back on shelves after listeriosis – with ‘improved food safety’ and a price higher than the competition

Worldwide, pork represents 40% of meat consumption - but in South Africa it's only 4.5%, Landbou reported.

Polony prices have recovered to around R46/kg, according to the latest survey of the National Agricultural Marketing Council - compared to around R41 before the listeriosis crisis. 

Currently, the average cost of pork chops in South Africa is R79 a kilogram - half the price of the average price for lamb chops. Chicken costs on average R47.19 a kilogram.

Read: There are big differences in braai meat prices across South Africa - with the Western Cape paying up to 23% more

Kotzé said that one of the key lessons learned from this is that higher food security standards needed to be maintained because the immunity of seven million South Africans is compromised.

The crisis also showed how important it is to be able to trace the origins of food, he added.

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