The export of weaners to South Africa has decreased significantly, despite the country being Namibia’s main export markets for livestock.
Statistics released by the Meat Board of Namibia last week states the total cattle marketing (in comparison with the same period in 2019) significantly decreased by 31% for the period 1 January 2020 to August 2020 in comparison with the same period last year.
Ironically, this is in spite of producer prices that showed a 2% increase for slaughtered cattle and a 39% increase for weaner calves.
Weaner calf exports that represent 63% of the total cattle market share, however, decreased by 49% during the reported period.
According to the Meat Board, the decrease is a result of a low supply and a greater demand from commercial slaughter cattle producers.
“The current favourable per kilogram weaner calf (200-250 kg) price at auctions and the per kilogram B2 slaughter price relation encourage weaner calf production, and can potentially initiate future weaner calf exports,” the statement reads.
Namibian weaner exports to South Africa decreased from 219 000 in 2017 to 210 000 exports in 2018.
South Africa is Namibia’s main trading partner in livestock, meat and meat products due to the two countries’ economic integration and geographic location.
The bulk of Namibia’s imports come from South Africa, and Namibia exports most of its products to South Africa. Despite this interdependence, both countries are protected by policies within their economies.
Namibia is a net exporter of cattle, sheep and goats – and a net importer of grain, feed, sugar, dairy, poultry, pork, fruit and vegetables.
South Africa, on the other hand, is a net importer of beef and lamb – and a net exporter of maize, which means South African farmers can feed their cattle more cheaply than their Namibian counterparts, giving them a competitive edge.
Feedlots in Namibia are not financially viable, as beef is sold at export parity prices, while animal feed is transported from other African countries.
According to earlier statistics compiled by the Meat Board of Namibia, more than 12 000 tonnes of beef, mutton, pork and processed meat products were imported annually for the period 2015 to 2017, while more than 12 000 tonnes of chicken (35% of total Namibian consumption) were imported annually.
Namibia has negotiated export market opportunities for beef to some of the most lucrative markets in the world, including the EU and Norway.
However, the volume of beef exported to the rest of the world is still far less than what is exported as live animals or beef and mutton to South Africa.