"If all goes well, the country will be the first in Africa to export beef to Hong Kong," Goliath Tujendapi, manager of trade and strategic marketing at the Meat Board of Namibia, told GlobalMeatNews.
The audit was based on a "sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) questionnaire requested by the Hong Kong food safety agency", explained Tujendapi. If all goes well, the mainland Chinese market, too, could open to Namibia’s beef, he said, adding: "[Both] Hong Kong and China are attractive markets for Namibia depending on the volume exported."
The relatively wealthy Hong Kong market could offer Namibia to sell high-end cuts and processed meat products, said Namibia Agricultural Union executive manager Sakkie Coetzee. It could give Namibia’s industry a chance to sell added-value beef products, instead of relying on demand for lower-value beef products sold to South Africa.
Market diversification is important for Namibia’s beef sector; South Africa’s new animal health import rules, introduced in May, include additional health checks and are already losing Namibian producers’ sales because of delivery delays and additional costs, according to the Meat Corporation of Namibia’s (Meatco) chief financial officer Nico Weck.
Nearly 70% of the 23,000 tonnes of beef and beef products produced in Namibia on average per year are sold locally and regionally, with South Africa a major buyer, said Weck. The remaining 30% is sold into European and Scandinavian markets.
South Africa is the main buyer of Namibia’s cattle: "They take nearly 50% of all cattle produced by Namibia every year, which is nearly 200,000 cattle," Weck noted, adding: "The imposition of controls has had a major impact. Indeed, Namibia has seen weaner prices at auctions drop by between Namibian dollars NA$4 (US$0.38) and NA$5 (US$0.47)."
Moreover, Namibia is a net exporter of meat and cattle, and the country lacks the capacity to absorb extra livestock on its small domestic market (population 2.2 million), so alternative markets are needed.
"This indicates how vulnerable the Namibian markets are," Coetzee said. He urged the need to "continuously look at alternative markets", including Russia and Iran.