Audio: Sub-Saharan Africa a Rapidly Growing Destination for U.S. Beef Variety Meat

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U.S. beef variety meat exports to Sub-Saharan Africa have surged in 2020, with shipments through May more than doubling year-over-year in both volume (12,783 metric tons, up 123%) and value ($9.6 million, up 115%). Shipments are mostly beef livers, but also include items such as kidneys and hearts. South Africa is the leading destination, but exports are also trending sharply higher to Angola, Gabon and Ivory Coast.

Matt Copeland, of Durban, South Africa, joined the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) last fall as the organization’s first-ever Africa-based representative. Copeland says U.S. beef variety meat is gaining market share versus Australian and New Zealand product. Some of the U.S. volume is destined for further processing, but much of it is sold frozen in wholesale and retail markets.

While U.S. beef muscle cut exports to the region are currently small, Copeland sees potential for growth once the restaurant sector begins to recover from the COVID-19 related slowdown. He is looking to work with companies such as Famous Brands, Africa’s largest branded foodservice franchisor, and other key restaurant chains in the region to promote the unique, high-quality attributes of U.S. beef.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation ( is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations. USMEF complies with all equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action measures applicable to it by contract, government rule or regulation or as otherwise provided by law. USMEF is an equal opportunity employer and provider.