Exciting times ahead as Meatco open doors to world markets

Windhoek: Rosa Hamukuaja-Thobias Manager: Corporate Affairs of Meatco, says Meatco is now anxiously waiting for the ruling from the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the US Department of Agriculture. “They are busy drafting regulations to facilitate the import of Namibian beef into the US market. Once the regulations are drafted they will be published for a public comment period in the US Federal Register. FSIS will address the comments and then publish the final ruling,” she says.

With regards to exports to China, she adds that Namibia has been approved to export beef to China, and Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, went to China end July for the signing ceremony. “One of the important things still to be done is that a health certificate template is needed from China. Conditions of the protocol have to be spelled out in the health certificate and it must be in both Chinese and English. The Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) is waiting for these translations to be conducted. Sales can only resume after the certificates have been sorted,” she confirms.

As for the Russian market, Dr Tina Shilongo from DVS who is responsible for special export issues is expected to give up-date on this market soon.

As for the possibility of Meatco’s Norway quota being increased from the current allocation next year, she says the Norwegian government has since 2013 been reviewing its agricultural policy. Part of this review includes the current GSP beef quota that Namibia currently enjoys into the Norwegian market. “Please note that the quota belongs to Namibia and not to Meatco. The objective of this review is to consider moving the current GSP quota to a bilateral quota under the SACU-EFTA FTA (FTA quota). Namibia including the rest of the SACU members signalled the need to expand the quota. The implication of this movement is that the FTA quota is managed via an auctioning system.

The potential effect of the auctioning system is that the price the Norwegian importer pays for the quota would be deducted from the price paid for Namibian beef and ultimately the revenue generated. Meatco is supportive of the request to expand the quota provided that the allocation method will not erode the benefits to our farmers,” she notes.

Dr Shilongo further informs that Meatco does not do any primal beef cuts into Zimbabwe at this stage. “We have however started to market low value products such as red offals and some trimmings into that market. These quantities are however very low at this stage. Regarding the cans we have started selling significant volumes into that market since 2014 and the TEXAN brand has established itself very well in terms of the brand awareness and quality. We anticipate growing the brand quiet significantly going forward and to make it the market leader. The prospects are very good. It will be all about consistency, good quality and having our pricing strategy right, which currently works for us,” she remarks.

At the beginning of this financial year that started on February 1, Meatco budgeted to slaughter 83 809 cattle. The number of cattle slaughtered up to September 3 was 81 352. The Okahandja abattoir slaughtered 33 149 animals while Windhoek abattoir slaughtered 48 203 cattle since the beginning of this financial year.

Mdlalose says Meatco forecast the slaughtering of 29 766 cattle at the Okahandja plant between September and the end of the year. “The number of slaughter cattle targeted for the financial year (2015/2016) increased to just over 108 969 , due to Meatco’s backwards integration initiatives and the increased Norway Quota of 78.1% playing important roles last year and continuing for the year ahead,” says he.

Last year these factors helped Meatco raise producer prices to record levels, increasing by about 30% south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence and 50% in the Northern Communal Areas. The year so far has been difficult, with challenges on both the economic and environmental front. Namibia saw outbreaks of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) and severe drought in most parts of the country, as well as turbulent exchange rates on world markets that greatly affected the meat industry and Meatco’s operations. The challenge remains to put the right strategies in place to counter these unforeseen challenges.