Following two decades of negotiation, laboratory tests, safety regulations and logistics, Namibia has finally become the first African country to export red meat to the United States after it sent 25 tonnes of beef to Philadelphia .
The arid southern African nation, known for free-range, hormone-free beef, is set to export 860 tonnes of various beef cuts in 2020 to the United States, which would rise to 5,000 tonnes by 2025.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans top the world list for red meat consumption per head. They consume on average 120 kgs of meat per person, making meat exports to the country a prime target.
Speaking about the successful deal on Wednesday, Namibia’s minister of international relations, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, said, “We’re able to finally export meat to the lucrative and big U.S. market.”
She was speaking in the capital Windhoek, headquarters of the state-owned meat firm Meatco, as the first shipment of meat sailed off.
The target has been specifically set to the massive U.S. fast food industry and franchises like McDonald’s, the minister said.
The transport is the first commercial consignment after samples were sent in the past 24 months to U.S. laboratories for tests.
The deal would see Namibia export boneless, raw beef cuts in frozen or chilled form.
In Namibia, agriculture contributes about 5% to country’s economy but farming including cattle rearing contributes nearly two-thirds of the population’s income.
In 2019, Namibia exported approximately 12,400 metric tonnes of meat to Britain, Norway, the European Union and China.
“Namibia will reap much benefit economically from tapping into the largest consumer market with purchasing power of $13 trillion, and U.S. consumers will benefit from access to Namibia’s high-quality, free-range, grass-fed beef,” U.S. ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said.
More so, Namibia’s exports will benefit from a duty-free regime under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).