Meat & Livestock News

South Africa Strategies to Elevate Game Meat Industry for Global Markets

Cutting meat in slaughterhouse .

South Africa has unveiled a comprehensive strategy aimed at expanding the game meat industry, fostering both domestic and international trade of zebra, crocodile, and ostrich meats.

The initiative seeks to capitalise on the country’s abundant wildlife resources and stimulate local consumption while aligning with global sustainability trends.

The legislation is set to regulate an industry predominantly operating on privately owned land, where the majority of wildlife is found and legally owned by the landholders.

This unique legal framework has historically incentivised the proliferation of wildlife by attributing monetary value to these animals.

Historically, the game meat market has been marginal, with only 3,000 tonnes exported in 2019 to markets such as the United Arab Emirates, China, and the European Union. 

The meat from these animals is noted for its lean quality, offering a healthier alternative to traditional meats like beef and lamb.

The South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment highlights the burgeoning demand for health-conscious and environmentally friendly products. The game meat sector is poised to meet this demand within South Africa and beyond.

The proposed strategy has the potential to generate substantial employment, with projections suggesting up to 202,000 job opportunities by 2030.

The plan includes promoting meat consumption from the existing game farm industry, home to some 16 million wild animals, and improving the proportion of meat deemed fit for human consumption from 10% to 85%.

The strategy also suggests a transition from hunting to more systematic commercial production, with the establishment of specialised abattoirs. Antelope species such as kudu, blesbok, springboks, gemsbok, eland, wildebeest, and impala are identified as primary sources for meat production.

While South Africa’s game meat production exceeds that of deer-hunting New Zealand, its exports are minimal in comparison, suggesting significant room for growth. The government’s strategy seeks to rectify this by increasing game meat production to over 100,000 tonnes annually by 2030, with a substantial focus on suitability for human consumption.