Izaak Breitenbach.

Businessman Izaak Breitenbach, a well-known figure in poultry and agricultural circles, has joined the South African Poultry Association as general manager of the Broiler Organisation. He takes over from Kevin Lovell who headed up the division for several years.

An entrepreneur with extensive experience in the agricultural sector, including SAPA where he held several prior positions, Breitenbach started his own consultancy firm three years ago after serving as senior managing director at Afgri Food Services, a food producing company. He has served on numerous boards in South Africa and internationally and has been lauded for his expertise in defining strategy and turning businesses around.

“The biggest challenge facing the broiler industry at the end of 2018 is the impact that dumping has had and continues to have,” said Breitenbach. “Producers in Brazil, for instance, have financial incentives to export and there is great concern over the traceability of certain imports that are repackaged in South Africa, since some importers flout the legal requirements.”

Having watched the local chicken industry from the outside for the past four years, while working in other agri industries including international poultry companies, Breitenbach says negative perceptions of the South African broiler industry are incorrect. “This is an industry that is immensely competitive internationally in terms of those elements of the value chain that it can manage or influence directly.”

However, South Africa’s semi-arid climate puts pressure on local producers’ competitiveness, he said, as drought pushes up the cost of feed and grain and necessitates expensive grain imports. “Chicken prices are established by the price of individual portions, but due to phytosanitary restrictions preventing South African producers from exporting, they are unable to participate in the lucrative EU and US markets for white breast meat, which would in turn allow them to subsidise their own ‘brown’ meat, as happens in other countries.”

“It has to be noted that it is incredibly difficult for countries with smaller chicken industries to compete with the big guns such as Brazil, the US, and the EU, who all protect their own with subsidies and incentives,” said Breitenbach. He is in favour of the proposed strategic and operational industry masterplan that will address transformation and place the poultry sector on a growth trajectory, to benefit the economy through job creation and tax generation.

“Great strides have already been made by chicken companies in developing a successful model for empowerment of black farmers. It is essential for both small and big farmers that the macroeconomic environment is managed successfully to grow the industry; and if that were to happen the industry could expand by 30% and create 30 000 new jobs virtually immediately.”

This masterplan, which is to be drafted by an independent entity employed by the departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, and Health, will incorporate inputs by all stakeholders. Breitenbach’s vision is to oversee its implementation during his tenure as SAPA’s general manager. “I look forward to helping create a climate in which the industry can experience material growth,” he said. “My hope for 2019 is that we see a normalised year without avian ‘flu or drought, in which we can build for the future.” – Press release