State-owned meat processer and marketing entity, the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco), is determined to unleash its potential on African and Middle Eastern markets. These markets are expected to be served by the Group operations in the Northern Communal Area (NCA), where strategic interventions are being put in place.
“Interventions are to establish a beef value chain, involving fodder production under the green scheme; improving the quality of animals in feedlots; operating the Rundu Abattoir and export products to these markets through a commodity-based trade approach under the Meat Market Africa brand,” reads Meatco’s 2020/21 annual report.
The effect of the prolonged drought, which in earnest began in 2015 in most parts of the country, was felt country-wide, as it culminated in 2019 when the entire country experienced full-blown drought conditions.
The Meatco report also shows that last year’s high slaughter numbers were a clear effect of producers taking cattle off the grazing areas, whereas this year’s low numbers reflect producers re-building herds in light of a better rainfall season in some parts of the country.
However, the Group stated that there are still large numbers of adult cattle being exported on the hoof to South Africa. In 2020, according to the Meat Board of Namibia, more than 158 000 cattle were exported, of which 150 480 were weaners. This, said the corporation, were cattle that could have been available for local slaughtering.
“The large number of weaners that were exported is a result of high prices being paid by feedlots in South Africa in the past five years, making it attractive for producers to switch to weaner production. This will, ultimately, lead to a situation where the necessary throughput in the local abattoirs cannot be obtained, which can lead to the total collapse of the beef production industry. It is a situation that requires strategic interventions from the whole industry,” warned Meatco.
To exacerbate the situation, during the past two years, many cows were slaughtered – and in some instances, cows made up nearly 60% of slaughtered animals. This means many producers lost nearly all their productive animals and herd building has to start nearly from scratch. The low number of available animals for slaughtering is expected to continue for the next two years as producers continue to restock.
Meatco foresees that available cattle numbers will remain low due to producers restocking and rebuilding their herds, with the focus remaining on maximising returns out of the little meat they procure. “The carcass mixes will need to be optimised, the Norwegian quota filled and Meatco needs to make sure the local market is filled to retain hard-won retail shelf space. Renewed emphasis will be put on the local market to address local competition more aggressively,” the report stated.