More options for cash strapped consumers – Astral Foods to trial tinned chicken product

It looks like the South African consumer could have more options when it comes to affordable canned protein. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ Independent Newspapers

South Africa’s largest poultry producer, Astral Foods said that it is looking into creating a canned chicken product that is an alternative or rival to pilchard and sardine products.

The CEO of Astral Foods, Chris Schutte said at a media briefing on Monday that the canned chicken product is still in its infancy and the company is planning a trial run.

The company said they are not planning to create a specific manufacturing facility for the product but would use a third-party canner.

Astral Foods said that it would look to create a chicken canned product that will rival the 410g canned fish.

Fish products are taking over

The Competition Commission’s 2024 Essential Food Price Monitoring report said in May that South African consumers are picking up more canned pilchards products as their preferred protein option.

“While chicken is still South Africa’s favoured protein source, canned pilchards have gained renewed popularity as consumers adjust their food expenditure in response to the rising cost of living and the effects of load-shedding on their ability to store perishable foods,” the report said.

This popularity can be seen in the sales figures of the listed canned pilchard producers, Oceana (the owner of Lucky Star) and Premier Fishing.

Lucky Star sales volumes grew by 9% across local and export markets going from 8.8 million cartons in the financial year of 2022 to 9.6 million in the 2023 financial year.

Premier said that it grew its sales of pilchards products by 59% going from 1,174 tons in the 2021 financial year to 1,866 tons in the 2022 financial year.

The report added that relative to other proteins, canned pilchards are not the most affordable source of protein with each gram of protein costing R1.12 in December 2023.

Affordable proteins

According to the report, the most affordable protein in SA is dry beans at R0.32 per protein gram.

This is followed by eggs at R0.48 per protein gram and Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) chicken at R0.91 per protein gram.

Beef is the most expensive source of protein at R2.81 per protein gram.

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