News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Study explores market opportunities for value-added beef products in East Africa

Selling meat in a Kenyan butchery. Improving the quality and safety of beef sold by small-scale traders in East Africa will enable them take advantage of emerging niche markets and increase their incomes. (Photo: ILRI)

According to a May 2011 report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), annual meat consumption per person will more than double in sub-Saharan Africa from 2000 to 2050, leading to a doubling of total meat consumption by 2050.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that between 1997-99 and 2030, annual meat consumption in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) will increase from 9.4 to 13.4 kg per person.

Growth in human population, increasing incomes and changing consumer tastes are among the main drivers of this rise in demand for high-quality meat products in much of the developing world, a trend that is expected to continue.

In eastern Africa, the growing demand for high-quality meat products presents a ripe opportunity for livestock producers to take advantage of the emerging markets for value-added meat products. However, several institutional barriers, such as unfavourable policies and poorly enforced regulations, limit the extent to which small-scale meat producers and market agents in the region can benefit from these opportunities.

To address this and other related issues, a collaborative project, Exploiting market opportunities for value-added dairy and meat products in the Eastern and Central Africa region, was carried out in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania in 2006 and in Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan in 2010 to characterize value chains for conventional and niche markets for dairy and meat products.

The project aimed at enhancing the capacity of small- and medium-scale enterprises in the East Africa region to effectively meet consumer demand for safe, high-quality dairy and meat products that meet national regulatory requirements.

The study examined consumers' perspectives on meat quality and safety and found that high-income consumers prefer to buy meat from upper-end markets like priority stores and supermarkets. They associate well packaged meat, clean premises and veterinary stamped-products with good quality and safety, and are indeed willing to pay a premium for these attributes. On the other hand, low-income consumers mostly purchase their meat products from local butcheries.

Roast beef

Selling of roast beef is an increasing trend motivated by rising consumer demand for ready-to eat roast beef. For example, in Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan, the roast meat (nyama choma) sold in butcheries and bars is a growing preference by both the indigenous and foreign consumers. In Uganda, vending of roadside roast beef known as muchomo is a growing trend on highway spots outside the capital city, Kampala.

The different ways in which the beef is roasted, dressed and sold varies by country. However, some consumers still question the safety and quality of beef as it goes through the processes of roasting, dressing and selling. However, if sellers can provide assurance of quality and safety then there will be demand from the high-income consumers.

Therefore, to increase the sales of value-added products, sellers of roast beef should adhere to national regulations for quality and safety and respond to consumer preferences. The growing trend of niche markets running along the spectrum of high, medium and low income consumers should also be explored as an opportunity for increasing sales through product value addition.

Regulators and policy perspectives

With regard to the policy and regulatory environment, the study identified a need for greater harmonization of regulations among countries in the eastern Africa region in order to enhance effective service provision to the beef sector.

The study proposes that a comprehensive beef policy for the region be drawn up to guide the implementation and enforcement of regulations aimed at ensuring the quality and safety of beef products, particularly those sold by small-scale traders.

For more information about this study, please contact Dr Amos Omore of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) (a.omore @

Story adapted from a brochure, Quality and safety of small-scale beef products in East and Central Africa, produced by the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA).

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