Namibia: Beef Supply On Red Alert

MEAT eaters may have to make peace with beef substitutes as the amount of locally slaughtered cattle is dwindling.

This is because the country is opting to send live animals to South Africa despite a lack of ready-to-slaughter animals.

Of the 14 892 animals marketed in April this year, only 5 144 were slaughtered for beef, compared to 7 896 last year.

The remaining 9 748 animals were exported live, with 95% of them sent to South Africa, and the rest to Angola.

The 5 144 head of cattle slaughtered are shared with Norway first, then with the European Union and South Africa.

The lack of availibility of meat in the formal market will drive beef lovers either to the informal market or to available substitutes.

Comparing the total number of animals marketed from January to April this year to that in the same period last year, the picture grows gloomy.

This raises the question whether producers are deliberately withholding animals for slaughter from local abattoirs.

Meat Board of Namibia (MBN) statistics for April show that 57 858 head of cattle were marketed from January to April 2021, compared to 87 708 in the same period last year.

Cattle marketing has declined by 34,03% year-to-date – a trend that has been observed as producers are restocking after the recent drought.

Statistics, however, indicate a worrying trend of live exports, which deserves addressing.

Out of those marketed in 2012, some 35 398 were live cattle sent mostly to South Africa.

More live animals are offered to South Africa for slaughter than locally.

This means Namibia has increased its overall amount of beef imports from South Africa as the neighbouring country is well supplied.

Despite more animals present north of the veterinary cordon fence (redline) than south, according to Meatco, the country has imported 887 615 kg of beef from January to April this year, the latest statistics show.

The country has exported 1,2 million kg of beef this year, meaning what is slaughtered in the formal market is exported, while meat for local consumption is imported.

After sending live animals to South Africa, the country turns to its neighbour for beef, as Namibia imported 236 781 kg of beef from South Africa from January to April this year.