Namibia has become the first African country to export red meat to the United States.
The southwest African country sent 25 tonnes of beef to Philadelphia, following two decades of haggling over safety regulations and logistics.
Known for free-range, hormone-free beef, Namibia is set to export 860 tonnes of various beef cuts this year, rising to 5,000 tonnes by 2025.
Namibia’s minister of international relations, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, said: “We’re able to finally export meat to the lucrative US market.”
She said that the target would be America’s fast food market and franchises like McDonald’s.
Under the deal, exports will include boneless, raw beef cuts, frozen or chilled from the state-owned meat firm Meatco. Namibia’s exports will also benefit from a duty-free regime under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
In 2019, Namibia exported about 12,400 tonnes of meat to Norway, Britain, parts of Europe and China.
US ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said: “Namibia will benefit economically from tapping into the largest consumer market with purchasing power of $13 trillion, and US consumers will benefit from access to Namibia’s high-quality, free-range, grass-fed beef.”
Recent data from the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) suggests meat consumption per head has actually increased over the last few years.
US consumption in 2018 was close to its highest in decades with an average of 120kgs of meat per person.