Opportunities, challenges for U.S. red meat exports in Africa

Already an active market for beef variety meat, but there is growth potential for beef and pork muscle cuts, as well as pork variety meat.

April 24, 2023

2 Min Read

The U.S. Meat Export Federation sees Africa as a promising destination for U.S. red meat exports, but one that comes with a number of supply chain challenges, which with the support of USDA, the Beef Checkoff Program and the National Pork Board, USMEF is working to overcome.

USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says Africa is already an active market for beef variety meat, but he also sees growth potential for beef and pork muscle cuts, as well as pork variety meat.

"The dynamics around Africa as a continent and specific countries, South Africa, Angola, Ghana, Congo, Senegal, etc., they're valid markets in and of themselves today on the beef variety meat side. But we see additional growth on variety, meats and ultimately muscle cuts and ultimately pork as well," Halstrom says. "We still have some access issues on pork, but the dynamics are there.

"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. But we, in addition to marketing our story in country, our team is focused on trying to help establish the supply chain, working with individual exporters, individual packers, focusing on introduction of samples, products to key customers throughout Africa is one of our key strategies."

USMEF Africa Representative Matt Copeland explains that for Africa to reach its potential as an export market, it is important to gather trustworthy data and establish strong relationships, so that both exporters and importers view red meat trade as reliable and sustainable.

"My life is absolutely committed to making sure that these commodities flow. Southern Africa, West Africa and East Africa, they've been, at times, dumping grounds for protein products from around the world. And so in that way, you see trading companies from all over the world who take advantage of those routes," Copeland says. "And what we need to do is try and engineer trust and integrity within those trade routes back to the United States. We want to make sure that we're pairing our traders and our packers with people of integrity in-country. 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."

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