Authorities hunt for new meat markets

…Meat Board, DVS target EU, China, the UAE and Saudi Arabia

By Hilary Mare

THE Meat Board, in collaboration with the Directorate Veterinary Services, has started negotiations to increase market access for bone-in beef and lamb to the European Union, China, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Except for the European Union and, to a lesser extent China, the Meat Board has said that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offer opportunities to import bone-in products produced north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence under certain conditions.

“Every potential importing country is measured according to the potential income Namibia could earn, import conditions set by the importing country and the costs to adhere to such conditions,” the Board said recently.

China already imports a certain amount of Namibian beef.

Namibia was granted access to the American market in 2016, but was waiting for labelling approval to start exports.

Under the US export rules, Namibia is eligible to export to the US boneless (not ground) beef raw products such as primal cuts, chucks, blade, and beef trimmings.

Through the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS), Namibia underwent a public health and assurance audit by the United States of America via Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS).

Already, Meatco was audited at plant level by an FSIS auditor.

No deviations (findings) were raised and the Meatco plant was found fully compliant. This inspection was conducted under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is responsible for the commercial supply of meat, correct labelling and packaging in that country.

To date, only 33 countries worldwide have been approved to export meat to the US.

Acknowledging the importance of Meatco’s market entry, Desmond Cloete, the Chief Marketing Officer at the Meat Board of Namibia earlier this year highlighted that this development would set Namibia apart from any other competitors like Botswana and Lesotho that also exports beef to the EU and Norway.

“Namibia is the first country in Africa to export beef to the US and this sets us apart. Our world renowned traceability system NAMLITS and FANMEAT scheme put trading partners at ease that the beef exported to their countries are safe and animals from which it is sourced are raised naturally and were never treated with antibiotics, growth stimulants or any other biotechnology,” he said.

He further noted that this is a major development which took around 14 years to open the US market also makes Namibia the trendsetters on the Africa continent.

“Even big brother South Africa may only dream to export beef to the US. Meatco exports beef under the “Never Ever” brand meaning our beef was never ever treated with growth stimulants, animal by-products and antibiotics and are raised naturally on grazing.

“Another major positive factor is that Meatco also slaughter older animals (C grades) that provides an alternatives  as is the case with the EU and Norway markets that solely requires A, AB & B grades of beef. As a result it provides a more competitive market for C grades and it is observed in the drastic increase in producer prices of c Grades in the market (also attributed to the moratorium on beef imports from RSA due to FMD outbreak),” further explained Cloete.

Namibia intends to export some 860 000 kg of beef in the first year, rising to 5.7 million kg by the fifth year. The projected Namibian beef imports in the first year would only be about 0.008 percent of total US production and 0.07 percent of total US meat imports.

Evaluation of the Namibian meat inspection system started in 2002 and resumed in 2005 after which the government of Namibia requested approval to export beef products to the US.