An Update on South Africa’s Horse Meat Imports

Regular readers of this blog might remember that back in March 2018, I wrote about increasing imports of horse meat into South Africa. Given the interest on the issue at the time, I thought it would be good to keep tabs on it on a quarterly basis.

Well, I have just looked at the trade data for the first quarter of 2018 and I’m pleased to inform all of you that there were no horse meat imports. This, however, is unsurprising. Historical data shows that the first quarter is always a quiet period, with horse meat imports tending to flow in during the second and third quarters of the year. So, it is too early to rule out whether South Africans are slowing down on horse meat imports or if we will see some activity in the coming months.

For context to those who have not been following the story or blog – South Africa imported 80 tonnes of horse meat in 2017, up by 51 percent from the previous year, according to data from Trade Map. The key supplier was Brazil.

Of the imported horse meat, only 5 tonnes was re-exported to the Maldives and Swaziland, the rest appears to have been utilised within the country. Looking at trade data makes it hard to tell if this was for animal or human consumption (I’m making this point because this is a question that came up from many people back in March 2018).

The horse meat trade is not unique to South Africa — from a global perspective, the key importers of horse meat are Italy, Belgium, France, Russia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The leading exporters are Argentina, Canada, Spain, Portugal and Poland amongst others.

Let me stop here – I will post an update on this issue when the second quarter trade data comes out.


Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo). E-mail: wandile@agbiz.co.za

Author: Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo is an agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) in South Africa. He is a columnist for Business Day and Farmers Weekly magazine. Sihlobo is a member of the South African Agricultural Economics Association. He has previously served as an economist at Grain South Africa. He holds a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University.

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