Together with a collaborative approach between industry and government, then the country would have an advantage to negotiate more export markets.

AS Statistics South Africa(Stats SA) reported decreased economic activities in animal products partially leading to the decline in the country’s agriculture GDP contribution, local beef producers were hoping to capitalise on this country’s reputation for producing quality beef by capturing a bigger slice of the beef export market.

This was as South African beef producers attended the FHA 2022, which is Singapore’s largest food and beverage expo, held between 5 and 8 September, in the hope of gaining access to more international markets in the East.

Gert Blignaut, Chief Operations Officer at beef products supplier to international markets said that global meat lovers have developed a taste for South African beef.

“Since exporting our products in 2008, we have seen that every market penetrated has added South African beef to their shelves because of our quality and service assurances, as well as our beef being competitively priced,” Blignaut said.

Blignaut said they were using the platform provided by the Singapore FHA expo to meet with authorities and understand the market dynamics in regions in and around Singapore, with the ultimate aim of accessing more international markets.

He added that for South Africa to gain more access to global markets, the country needed to get a handle on the issue of livestock health, with traceability being the cornerstone of global biosecurity standards.

He said if it could get this right, together with a collaborative approach between industry and government, then the country would have an advantage to negotiate more export markets.

His comments come off the back of the ongoing issue of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreaks in South Africa.

The country is currently in a legislated ban on the movement of animals to curb the rampant spread of the disease, which was threatening both the health of the national herd, as well as South Africa’s beef exports.

Blignaut said that despite the concerns on stricter biosecurity measures, many of the country’s export markets were still open for beef trade due to the bilateral trade agreements in place between South Africa and international territories.

“We need to focus on better biosecurity protocols not only to maintain these markets, but also to open new ones.”

The South African beef industry has made some inroads into new export markets over the recent past, with the country’s beef sought after in the Far and Middle East. According to the South African Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, South Africa currently exports 4 percent of its beef production, which, according to Blignaut, clearly indicated that there was an opportunity for the country to grow its beef exports.

“The opportunity in our export markets is also made clear by (the) Agriculture and Agro-Processing Master Plan (AAMP), read in conjunction with the Red Meat Industry Strategy 2030 prepared by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP). This means we must move now to open ourselves to export markets and capitalise on the opportunities inherent in the plan,” Blignaut said.

According to these strategies, the red meat sector was expected to contribute more than R12 billion to SA’s agricultural GDP per annum by 2030, adding 3 200 jobs to the sector.

In February this year, local beef producers hoped to unlock increased trade volumes for South Africa from key markets like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this year.

South African beef was put up on the stage at the Gulffood 2022 trade fair, which is the largest annual food and beverage exhibition in the world. More than 120 countries and 4 000 companies participated in it.

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