Home 5 Ag Stories Potential growth for U.S. beef in Africa is worth investing in

Potential growth for U.S. beef in Africa is worth investing in

Photo courtesy of U.S. Meat Export Federation

Africa may not be the largest customer for U.S. red meat, but it holds tremendous potential for export growth. Of the $5 billion of U.S. beef exported around the world through May of this year, only $8 million has been sent to Africa. There is also growing interest in higher-end beef cuts from Africa’s growing middle class. As a result, Africa is a very promising destination for beef variety meats, which provide low-cost protein that helps meet their nutritional needs. Matt Copeland, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) representative in Africa, said a growing population, an expanding need for affordable protein, an explosion in western-style retail outlets, and some softening in regulatory barriers shows that the region has great potential for growth in the U.S. red meat market.

“There is a huge volume of consumers- Nigeria’s over 200 million people by 2100,” Copeland said. “That’s the largest country in the world by population potentially, and China’s going the other way in terms of their demographic hubs. It’s such an important base for us to be looking into. We’re a short market for these variety meats, and there’s still a long way to go in terms of satisfying demand. I’d say we’re probably a thousand tons a month short, and we can accept more offers. We’re glad and willing to try and get more offers into that sub–Saharan African sector of the market. Certainly critical, kidneys and other products, like beef head meats and beef tongue roots, are used in manufacturing of hamburger patties in country. It’s a wonderful way of starting to introduce consumers to a slightly different flavor.”

A return to more normal shipping rates would likely open up more variety meat sales in Africa. At the same time, Copeland said there is significant growth in more traditional grocery chains offering higher end cuts.

“European outlets like Carrefour or ShopRite, which is a pioneer from South Africa as a retail organization, have over 2500 commercially owned central head office-controlled stores, and another 500, approximately, franchise stores,” Copeland said. “There are companies like Massmart in South Africa, and Walmart has a significant equity position in those businesses. There is the genie coefficient, there’s disparity in terms of earnings, the haves and have nots. You have to look after everyone in the market. So, variety meats by volume have a massive part to play in making sure adequate nutrition is available and meets those needs of the broader base. But on the other hand, certainly over time, there are going to be opportunities for high end muscle cuts because they’re in demand.”

For more information, visit usmef.org.