More American meat exports are making their way into the African continent. Matt Copeland is the African Representative for the U.S. Meat Export Federation; “Yes, I’m based out of Durban, South Africa, and that’s one of the busiest ports on the continent. I look after all of the countries up there except for Egypt. We’re looking at Morocco north of the Sahara, but the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa certainly is my responsibility.”
He says Africa is an up-and-coming market for U.S. livestock commodities. Copeland; “We have challenges in Africa in terms of affordability for some of the ways products are priced out of the U.S. The complexity is we don’t produce enough protein on the continent either. So how are we going to make sure that adequate nutrition reaches a majority of our consumers, and the reality is when we’re balancing the carcasses, both in beef and pork, we’ve got to think about Africa as a destination for nutritious things like variety meats.”
Africa is now a top-five market for U.S. variety meats according to Copeland.
“Africa has quickly become the third most important market for beef variety meats. And we’re working legislatively with FAS, which is supported by FSIS and some of the veterinary organizations within destination countries to see more of the pork variety meats approved and able to trade. In South Africa, for example, we produce a particular sausage that uses a lot of pork hearts in it traditionally, and again, that’s a natural arbitrage that, at the moment, we can’t capture, but we’re working to capture that. Certainly, in 2023, we hope to open that trade.”
He says demand for muscle cuts is picking up too. “We do see demand because of the Gini coefficient on the continent between the haves and the have-nots. From a shared, beautiful experience point of view, the top end of fine dining certainly needs USDA prime steaks. But what about general retail? Is their candidacy for maybe some of the white cow program, so that’s products out of the U.S. They’re beef animals, they’re slaughtered over 30 months, so they don’t make roll, but they’ve been grain finished. They have a wonderful marble score, and they’re absolutely delicious, and we can get those probably from a cost of activity point of view into more of the retailers on the continent. We slaughter really young animals in South Africa and most of Africa. Those are all grass-fed, and, as a result, the palatability is, as you know, completely different.”