The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (Amie) has called for urgent intervention to fast-track imports through the Durban port.
The association says the import food industry has lost 40 000 t of cold storage capacity and that significant volumes of raw material has been lost as a result of the past weeks’ unrest in KwaZulu-Natal.
“This will severely impact the food supply and manufacture of protein products in the short term. Food imports make up a critical part of the South African food supply chain,” Amie states.
The organisation is concerned about maintaining food security and has asked to meet with Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza to address the association’s concerns.
“We can avoid a national food crisis if the government assists the import and export sector to accelerate their operations to improve food supply for a constrained market,” Amie elaborates.
In addition to the recent unrest impacting on food imports, Amie CEO Paul Matthew says the industry is operating under “huge constraints” with a restrictive regulatory regime and red tape preventing the rapid and efficient delivery of food.
The infrastructure that supports this regulatory regime, such as the cold stores and the laboratories, were destroyed during the riots and looting.
“The mechanisms that control the import and export of food are now almost non-existent. Consequently, we need to come up with another feasible strategy to facilitate the smooth importation of food products into South Africa,” he says.
Moreover, Covid-19 has also brought its own challenges to the supply chain in the form of delays during lockdowns.
Amie is asking the agriculture and trade departments to expedite the flow of product through the Durban port, through accelerated paperwork, testing, inspections and container releases.