Listeriosis: ban affects small percentage of exports

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The recent Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa has led to several countries banning exports of affected products from SA. 

But according to Niki Kruger, the Chief Director for Trade Negotiations at the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), overall, the bans by the said countries represents a small percentage of South Africa’s overall exports. 

Kruger said this when appearing before the Joint Meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Portfolio Committee on Health on Wednesday on the Listeriosis outbreak and the recall of certain products. 

She said the outbreak has, in terms of exports tariffs, affected products classified under Chapter 16 – which is sausages (16:01) and processed and preserved meats (16:02). 

“The message overall is that there is a very small percentage of our exports that are affected currently. The biggest risk for us… is the impact in terms of the perception of South African exports in regard to this,” she said. 

Sausage exports affected by bans 

Kruger said over the past two years, when it comes to sausages, South Africa has been exporting products amounting to $18 million (R210 million) on average.   

SA’s top export destinations for sausages were Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia and the Seychelles. 

“What we have been informed so far in terms of countries that have… put a ban on these products are Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Seychelles, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Kenya. 

“If you look at in terms of the exports over the past two years, the value of the exports that has been affected is about $8 million (R100 million). 

“But if you look at our exports to the world in total… the… exports that have been affected is 0.01%. It is a very small percentage of our total exports.” 

How bans of polony, salami has affected exports 

Kruger said when it comes to prepared and preserved meats, SA’s total exports to the world has been about $45 million (R530 million). 

The country’s top export destinations has been Namibia, Lesotho, the United Arab Emirates, Swaziland, Botswana, Germany, United Kingdom and Mozambique. 

Kruger said the bans in this case amount to $70 million (R202 million). 

“What we also need to take into account is that the companies that have been implicated in this have on their own accord, according to the information we received, stopped the exports of these products until the situation is resolved.” 

Proposal to impose compulsory minimum standards on all exports 

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said in light of the outbreak, there is a need to urgently look at imposing compulsory specifications before any product can be exported. 

He said no one should be permitted to produce anything which is below the standards of the National Regulator of Compulsory Specifications (NRCS). 

The Minister said the moment that Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi communicated information about the Listeriosis outbreak to him and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, they took a view that consumer health was the main priority. 

“We are deeply troubled that there are people in this country that suffered illness and death as a result of this unnecessary outbreak. The approach that we have taken throughout is that although this has an impact on trade and the development of agro-processing, we have placed priority on ensuring that there is food safety in our country.” – SAnews.gov.za