Working to build a solid base in a developing market, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) matched red meat exporters with buyers during the first USMEF South Africa Seminar & Buyers Reception. Funding support for the networking and educational event, held Aug. 18 in Johannesburg, South Africa, was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program, the beef checkoff program and the pork checkoff.
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 and pork in South Africa’s processing, retail and foodservice sectors. Focus was also put on food safety and the quality and consistency of U.S. red meat products, as well as the availability of U.S. beef livers, kidneys and other beef variety meats.
“This was an opportunity to not only build and establish relationships, (but) the event also provided valuable information for buyers in South Africa and helped reacquaint them with high-quality U.S. beef and pork,” USMEF senior vice president of marketing Dan Halstrom said, noting that those in attendance were from the South African trade, along with one buyer from Nigeria.
“South Africa’s retail market is a combination of modern supermarkets and the more traditional wholesale markets,” Halstrom said. “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, provides promising future opportunities for U.S. beef and pork.”
Also prior to the seminar, Cheyenne McEndaffer, USMEF technical services manager, and Monty Brown, USMEF representative in the region, met with South African port officials in Durban. 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 red meat 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.
In February, South Africa reopened to U.S. pork, allowing U.S. exporters to send certain cuts of raw, frozen pork to the country for further processing at approved establishments and a narrower range of items for unrestricted sale (including retail). It had been officially closed to U.S. pork since 2013, but prior to that time, trade was very limited due to regulatory restrictions.
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 case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Having both products eligible in South Africa is adding momentum to USMEF’s market development efforts in Africa, the group said. Last September, USMEF held its first Meat Buyers Showcase & 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.