April 27, 2023
Market potential for US red meat exports lies in Africa: USMEF
The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) sees Africa as a promising destination for US red meat exports, but not without a number of supply chain challenges.
USMEF president and chief executive officer Dan Halstrom said the dynamics around Africa as a continent and specific countries, such as South Africa, Angola, Ghana, Congo and Senegal, prove to be valid markets.
While beef variety meats are already popular, Halstrom said there is additional growth potential on beef muscle cuts and pork as a whole, both variety and muscle cuts, which are barred by some access issues.
"You've got 1.2 billion people in the continent of Africa today — the youngest demographic in the world — and spending power that's increasing each and every day. What comes with a brand new market, though, is that you have a supply chain that's not well established," Halstrom explained.
USMEF, with support from the United States Deparment of Agriculture (USDA), the Beef Checkoff Program and the National Pork Board are thus focused on trying to establish the supply chain and working with individual exporters and individual packers, while also looking to introduce sample products to key customers throughout Africa, he added.
USMEF Africa representative Matt Copeland said that establishing trust will be critical for exporters and importers alike.
"Southern Africa, West Africa and East Africa, they've been, at times, dumping grounds for protein products from around the world. So, in that way, you see trading companies from all over the world who take advantage of those routes," Copeland explained.
By engineering trust and integrity within those trade routes tracing back to the US, Copeland believes that pairing traders and packers with people of integrity in the US will help bridge the gap and establish a strong working relationship. However, this will not be possible without boots on the ground.
"But to do that, we have to do a lot of traveling, a lot of vetting, a lot of visiting, a lot of shaking of hands and we want to make sure that we're successful developing a database that's trustworthy for our members," he said.