Food shares plummet

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Farmers have enjoyed good rain so far this year, yet the shares of JSE-listed food companies are down in the dumps.

The FTSE-JSE Food Producers Index has tumbled from over 37500 in November to around 30000 now.

Nick Wentzel, the chief executive of poultry group Astral Foods, whose shares have dropped a third from nearly R155 in December to around R100, said consumers are tightening their belts.

Competing poultry group Sovereign's share has fallen more drastically - halving from around R21 at the start of the year to just over R10 yesterday.

Nearly all food shares dived after Sovereign issued a trading update last Friday, saying its earnings will be between 35percent and 45percent lower for the year ended February 29 than the previous year.