Already a significant buyer of U.S. beef variety meats, Africa’s demographics point to long-term export opportunities in the region. Africa holds the highest rate of population growth of any continent and between now and 2050, more than half of global population growth will occur there.
“There is tremendous upside for high-quality, grain-fed U.S. beef in this market,” says Matt Copeland, USMEF’s regional representative, “as most beef consumed in Africa is low-quality, grass-fed product.
“There is also strong demand now for inexpensive protein in the region. In addition to beef variety meats, we also see immediate potential for low-cost protein such as ungraded, no roll beef from the U.S. Demand for these inexpensive items provides an opportunity for us to introduce U.S. red meat, U.S. suppliers and U.S. agriculture to the region.”
Through the first 11 months of 2020, total U.S. beef exports to Africa increased 25% to $22.1 million and total U.S. pork exports increased 53% to $1.4 million. South Africa is the second-largest export destination for U.S. beef livers and was the largest buyer of U.S. beef kidneys in 2018 and 2019.
USMEF is working in targeted markets to build awareness of U.S. red meat, develop demand for specific products, and introduce buyers to the quality attributes of U.S. red meat. Copeland is working aggressively to expand the number of importers and distributors in the region who purchase U.S. beef. Copeland is also working to introduce U.S. beef to the retail and HRI sectors in South Africa. Copeland sees strong potential for U.S. beef variety meats, including liver, in retail and HRI. USMEF produced a brochure for South African retailers about quality attributes of U.S. beef liver in Zulu and has plans to print the brochure in Xhosa at a later stage. The brochure has also been translated into French for use in Morocco.
“Consumers have had very little exposure to high-quality red meat products,” says Copeland. Africa provides an inexpensive backgrounding environment for cattle but feed inputs and production practices are focused reducing costs. As a result, Copeland maintains that the end product is very lean compared with highly marbled muscle cuts from the U.S. USMEF believes regional economic development will bring demand for higher-quality protein in the retail and HRI sectors. Presently, the market development focus is on South Africa but USMEF is actively assessing opportunities in Mozambique, Swaziland, Angola, Ghana, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Morocco.
In predominantly Christian regions and in major tourist destinations, there are opportunities for U.S. pork. USMEF is conducting trade servicing and development efforts in Republic of Congo and Gabon. Trade development is central to USMEF’s efforts in new and emerging markets and Copeland is producing promotional videos for importers and distributors of U.S. red meat. Another tactic is the use of a concept kitchen in South Africa for cooking and tasting sessions featuring U.S. beef. Copeland demonstrates the quality attributes of U.S. beef to potential buyers and introduces importers and distributors to retailers.
USMEF is also working in South Africa to introduce U.S. beef to consumers in the retail sector. To support target account retailers when the pandemic first affected business operations last spring, USMEF provided hand sanitizers on behalf of the U.S. red meat industry to 60 stores of two retail chains. To promote U.S. beef’s availability, USMEF has also conducted retail promotions and initiated truck-wrap and truck-side advertising on delivery trucks in Johannesburg.