On 7 June 2016, the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) placed a suspension on the import of live cattle, bone-in beef and innards into the country.
This has left the Namibian meat industry with no other choice but to re-strategise about how to supply the local and international markets with prime cuts, while keeping prices market–friendly.
As a role player, Meatco is concerned about how the industry as a whole will be affected by this decision.
This suspension means that any business that had a permit to import carcasses can no longer do so. This excludes the import of live cattle from South Africa, as this is now allowed following the announcement made by the MAWF on 13 June 2016.
What makes matters worse is that Meatco is currently experiencing very low cattle volumes due to the drought and a limited availability of slaughter carcasses. Importing carcasses from South Africa was a vital alternative, since it supplemented local carcass availability, providing the local market with a quality and affordable protein.
In a year like 2016, drought makes it difficult to supply the local market with good quality carcasses. The local market does not want to consume lean C-grade meat, which is currently in oversupply; hence, the strategy to import A-grade carcasses from SA in limited quantities. While importing well-priced carcasses from South Africa to supply local demand, Meatco and other exporters were able to sell top quality products to international markets, realising better value for producers.
“The suspension of import permits on certain products i.e. bone-in beef, will cause a significant shortage in the local meat supply chain, which will lead to an increase in consumer prices,” says Executive: Stakeholder Relations and Corporate Affairs, Vehaka Tjimune.
“Meatco was taken aback by the quick decision made by the MAWF with regards to imports, as there was no prior consultation with role players and trading partners such as South Africa on the negative impact it may have on the industry.”
Ironically, this apparent lack of consultation and insufficient time given to stakeholders by the MAWF is precisely what Namibia wanted to avoid in dealing with South Africa concerning the revised import conditions of live cattle.
In conclusion, Meatco is concerned about how South Africa will react to this abrupt decision and how it can potentially affect future trade between the two countries.