Namibian meat processing and marketing company, Meatco, has moved closer to start shipping beef to the United States (US) after the American Government approved the labelling and packaging issues that had previously delayed exports.
Namibia was granted access to the American market in 2016, but was waiting for labelling approval to start exports.
According to Meatco Manager of Corporate Affairs, Rosa Hamukuaja-Thobias, the labels were approved two weeks ago.
“The Meatco Quality assurance department has been hard at work in terms of doing specialised labelling for that specific market. We are now finalising administrative issues with our counterparts, the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS),” Hamukuaja-Thobias.
She did not say what these administrative issues were.
Last year, Meatco underwent a public health and assurance audit by the United States of America via the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) and it was found to be fully compliant.
The audit, which is conducted every 18 months or two years, was carried out to verify whether Namibia remains in compliance with maintaining the required standards.
Once exports to the US start, Meatco intends to market boneless raw beef products such as primal cuts, chuck-and-blade and beef trimming to big clients such as Whole Foods Market and McDonalds.
Whole Foods Market is a Fortune 500 American supermarket chain that specialises in natural and organic food.
It has 473 stores in North America and the United Kingdom.
McDonalds is one of the largest and well-known American fast food companies in the world that was founded in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald, in San Bernardino, California, United States.
The restaurant chain serves over 69 million customers daily in over 100 countries across approximately 36,900 outlets as of 2016.
Namibia is the first country in Africa to receive such approval, and Meatco will become the first African company to start exporting beef products to the USA.
The country’s projected volumes to the US are expected to start at about 862 metric tonnes (mt), increasing to about 5670 mt by 2019, according to previous US Embassy estimates.
Beef exports to the US are expected to lift trade between the United States and Namibia, which topped N$3,2 billion in 2015.
According to Hamukuaja-Thobias, Meatco is also striving to target niche markets such as in Hong Kong where sales efforts have been undertaken by the company in recent months.
So far, the company has sent about four consignments to Hong Kong meat importers, and the market is said to have responded positively.
Meatco intends to expand its exports to this particular market.
Chief Veterinary Officer Milton Maseke, however, told the Windhoek Observer that they were yet to be consulted regarding the US exports.
Maseke said that as far as he was concerned, nothing had been communicated to him and he was still in the dark.
Meanwhile, Meatco has already started fulfilling the Norwegian quarter commitment of 1600 tons of meat.
The Windhoek Observer was unable to get a comment from the American Embassy as emails went unanswered by the time of going to print.