February 6, 2024

South Africa’s Red Meat Industry Enters New Era

Red Meat

In a significant development for South Africa’s red meat industry, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has officially opened its market to South African red meat exports. This breakthrough, facilitated by the collaborative efforts of the Red Meat Industry Services (RMIS), the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), and the Red Meat Abattoir Association (RMAA), marks a pivotal moment in the industry’s expansion efforts.

The engagement between these entities spanned over a year, culminating in the successful negotiation of a Veterinary Health Certificate, which has been distributed across South African provinces. This achievement aligns with the Red Meat Strategy 2030, which aims for a 20% export target by the end of the decade. The strategy emphasizes industry restructuring, public-private partnerships, and improved veterinary services as key to reaching this goal.

The announcement comes after premature reports in August 2023 led to a spike in weaner calf prices, indicating strong industry optimism about the potential market opening. The official confirmation, however, came after months of diligent work to meet the Saudi Food and Drug Administration’s (SFDA) requirements, showcasing a strong public-private collaboration.
Saudi Arabia’s interest in South African red meat, including beef, lamb, mutton, and goat, is part of a broader investment push into Africa’s most developed economy. The move is expected to tap into a R38 billion industry, with Saudi Arabia lifting a 20-year ban on South African meat imports, which was initially imposed due to concerns over foot and mouth disease.

This development is part of Saudi Arabia’s broader strategy to diversify its economy beyond oil, as evidenced by its potential inclusion in the BRICS bloc and investments in various sectors, including pharmaceuticals and technology. The opening of the red meat market is also anticipated to pave the way for other agricultural exports, such as poultry.
The resumption of direct flights between Saudi Arabia and Johannesburg, alongside efforts to streamline visa processing, further underscores the growing trade and investment ties between the two nations. This milestone not only represents a significant opportunity for South Africa’s red meat industry but also exemplifies the potential for enhanced bilateral relations and economic growth.