U.S. Meat Export Federation Africa Representative Matt Copeland was part of a recent USDA trade mission delegation visiting Kenya, and says he was impressed by the growth opportunities that post-COVID ecommerce offers for U.S. red meat in Africa.
"There's a business in Kenya delivering to their rural constituents miles and miles away from the commercial center once every three days. They are able to put the time that would take normally for a villager to actually get to town, get food for their family and get back home. They're helping that villager actually do some work," Copeland says. "So fundamentally COVID, it was a really tragic time, but it forced commerce to make a big shift, I can see the commerce shifting quicker. And so just be ready for these problems being solved. This is in East Africa, currently in Kenya. But we're going to solve these food issues all over West Africa and southern Africa as well. So it's an exciting time, and it's exciting time to participate."
While Africa holds potential for a range of U.S. beef and pork products, Copeland says variety meats have already gained significant traction in the region.
"Fifty-four countries, a couple of those countries have close to 200 million people, five or six of them are between 60 and 80 million people each. When you add it up, there's a huge, huge black hole of protein demand. Are they all empowered? Can they all afford USDA prime steaks? No. The answer's no. But in terms of balancing the carcass in both beef and pork variety, meats will become critical to Africa's stability in a way," Copeland says.
"In those particular items, beef liver is huge. It's been a huge item in Egypt for many, many years. But in the sub Saharan African countries, West African countries like Gabon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, we see quite a lot of growth, Mozambique and Angola as well. But in South Africa, we have incredible beef production and yet there's still a huge demand for these variety meats. Beef liver's a superfood that we can educate around the nutritious value of the product as well as delivering it in an absolutely delicious way. We're doing two things: we're helping the restaurant owner make more profit, and two, we're helping deliver really quality nutrition to their customers as well."
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