Ostrich exports

SA’s fresh ostrich meat exports resume after four-year EU ban

Finally a break for the battered ostrich industry – the EU has lifted a four-year ban on fresh ostrich meat after SA was declared free of bird flu.

“Resuming exports to the EU will play an important role in increasing the number of jobs in this industry, which currently employs over 50 000,” said Alan Winde, the Western Cape minister for economic opportunities.

The greater ostrich export industry based in the Western Cape  – meat, chick, feathers and eggs – is estimated to be worth more than R1bn. The EU put the ban in place in April 2011 with the bird flu outbreak.

The ostrich industry has taken steps to mitigate the financial risk should avian influenza break out again, said Francois de Wet, chairperson of the Ostrich Business Chamber. “The local ostrich industry is far less dependent on fresh meat as a product than it was in 2011,” he said, and made a encouraging recovery after the EU embargo as demand and prices for ostrich leather increased due to fashion trends.

Before the ban, SA was slaughtering 230 000 ostriches annually for their meat. When the EU imposed the embargo, this tumbled to 120 000 and then recovered to 190 000 by 2013 because of demand by fashion houses such as Kering SA’s Gucci and Prada, De Wet said.

Developing and producing pre-cooked ostrich meat was another of the risk-mitigation measures, with South Africa being the only country to do so, he said. “We are exporting about 600 tons of it a year and hope to increase this as the demand for the meat is rising because it has very low cholesterol and fat content.”

Related reading:

SA’s ostrich industry: down but not out

Karoo ostrich industry finds way to beat the EU bird-flu ban