MEATCO is currently experiencing a shortage of cattle ready for slaughter and indicated that the challenges with regards to the recovery of the production of enough animals might take as long as five years.
According to the company’s head of marketing and sales, Andre Mouton, Meatco feels good about the yields they currently get from the market but at the same time, some negativity exists about the availability of slaughter cattle.
Mouton while sharing Meatco’s outlook and prospects of the meat industry for 2021, said the shortage is hampering the company’s hopes to launch a new initiative that will make extra meat available for the local market.
Another challenge lies ahead in filling the quota of butchered meat destines for Norway this year.
“Namibia’s shortage of cattle for slaughter is a problem that will only be solved with a long-term vision,” he said.
Mouton noted that the forecast is that very few slaughter cattle will be available this year.
“The priority in this battle is the local market, so very few cattle will be available for export. The greatest problem at this stage is managing the lack of throughput as cost-effectively as possible,” he said.
He indicated that farmers barely managed to keep a core of the animals alive after seven years of drought.
“Most of the cattle currently available for slaughter are either very young or very old. Younger females will be used by producers to rebuild their herds and that process will take time,” he said.
Mouton said that if there are not enough animals for slaughter for the local market, Meatco is ready to import cattle from Botswana to supply in the demand.
“So far this year, about 900 cattle were brought in. The alternative plan is to market cattle from the north through a quarantine system or to put the meat up for sale on the world market,” Mouton said.
Mouton indicated that Meatco’s throughput requirement is between 20 000 and 22 000 heads of cattle if only high-value cuts are to be exported.
“At this stage, it appears that the country does not have more than 30 000 head of cattle available for slaughter. Livestock production is still going to take a long time to recover from the drought,” he said.
Mouton was of the opinion that if producers manage the problem and the industry comes together to speed up and improve the process, the complete recovery of slaughter animal production might take as long as five.