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Astral Foods experiences slump in profits

South African poultry producer, Astral Foods Ltd (ARL), has announced its 2012 fiscal earnings plummeted by 23 per cent as chicken imports from South America and Europe rose and the local price of corn increased

The Pretoria-based company has seen its net income fall to US$38mn from US$49mn a year.

“The poultry industry was put to the test on many fronts,” said Chris Schutte, CEO of ARL, touching on corn exports from South Africa, increasing poultry imports, soaring international grain prices and the rise in energy costs.

ARL cut the number of employees by 150 in August 2012, while freezing pay for 12,000 of them on 18 October in an attempt to find a way to raise feed costs.

The contract price of yellow corn rose to US$288 per metric ton from its year-low of US$221 on 7 May in Johannesburg trading.