South Africa

South African beef exports hit 7-year high in January

South African beef exports have shown strong growth over the last year. In January, they achieved their highest level in seven years.

South Africa has a vibrant agricultural sector, and the local livestock and meat industry is no exception.

A 2021 AgriSETA report stated that South Africa accounted for over 21% of the total meat produced in Africa and 1% of global meat production.

In addition, the livestock industry contributed 34.1 % to the total domestic agricultural production and provided 36% of the population’s protein needs.

Roelie van Reenen, supply chain executive at Beefmaster Group, said South Africa has shifted from a net importer of beef to a net exporter over the past 20 years.

“This is a great achievement. But the playing field is much bigger now, and there are more challenges on the global stage,” Van Reenen said.

Despite a significant decline in beef exports due to foot and mouth disease in 2022 and the start of 2023, the market has recovered.

Saudi Arabia and other countries lifting a ban on South African beef exports will also benefit South African beef exporters.

Absa’s 2024 AgriTrends Report said beef prices will follow an upward trend over the medium term, supported by improved export prospects to markets such as Saudi Arabia.

The report said, “Stronger links into global markets will provide scope for more aggressive price growth as herd liquidation in key markets limits demand and supports global beef prices.”

These expectations are supported by the latest data regarding South African beef exports over the last few years.

The data shows South African beef exports increased from 27,000 tons in 2022 to 38,000 tons in 2023.

In January 2023, South Africa exported only 1,624 tons of beef. However, this increased throughout the year and reached 4,708 tons by December.

Another encouraging sign is that South Africa exported 3,225 tons of beef in January 2024, the highest start to the year since 2017.

The chart below shows South Africa’s rapidly increasing beef exports in 2023.


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