Working to build a solid base in a developing market, USMEF matched red meat exporters with buyers at the first USMEF South Africa Seminar and Buyers Reception. Funding support for the networking and educational event, held Aug. 18 in Johannesburg, was provided by the USDA Market Access Program and the Beef Checkoff Program.
Along with one-on-one business meetings and updates on current market conditions, USMEF staff provided technical advice and assistance to traders with an interest in putting more U.S. beef into South Africa’s processing, retail and foodservice sectors. Focus was also put on food safety and the quality and consistency of U.S. beef products, as well as the availability of U.S. beef livers, kidneys and other beef variety meat.
“This was an opportunity to not only build and establish relationships, the event also provided valuable information for buyers in South Africa and helped reacquaint them with high-quality U.S. beef,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president of marketing, who noted that those in attendance were from the South African trade, along with one buyer from Nigeria.
The day before the event, USMEF led a tour of the Johannesburg area to explore modern retail and traditional wholesale markets.
“South Africa’s retail market is a combination of modern supermarkets and the more traditional wholesale markets,” said Halstrom. “The degree of modern retail development in South Africa far exceeds the rest of Africa, and the pace of growth continues to be strong. The potential in retail, along with foodservice and further processing, provide promising future opportunities for U.S. beef.”
Also prior to the seminar, USMEF Technical Services Manager Cheyenne McEndaffer and Monty Brown, USMEF representative in the region, traveled to Durban to meet with South African port officials. Durban was chosen because it is the highest volume port for meat imports entering the country. The goal was to better familiarize USMEF staff on the import clearance protocols. In discussions with the port officials, McEndaffer and Brown had an opportunity to learn about common documentation and labeling errors, in addition to clarification on the physical inspection and residue and microbiological sampling protocol for imported beef products. USMEF plans to use this information to educate U.S. exporters on South Africa’s import process in order to minimize shipment delays or rejections in this new market.
“As is generally true when a market opens or reopens, exporting to South Africa is going to include a learning process for everyone involved, but continual information gathering will help clarify the process for our exporters,” McEndaffer said.
South Africa reopened to U.S. beef in January, with no restrictions. The South African market had previously been closed to U.S. beef since the December 2003 BSE case.
Having both products eligible in South Africa is adding momentum to USMEF’s market development efforts in Africa. Last September, USMEF held its first Meat Buyers Showcase and Seminar in Sub-Saharan Africa. The event, held in Ghana, attracted several U.S. export companies and more than two dozen buyers from Ghana, Benin and Nigeria.