Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Processed meat – A growing part of global nutrition

Processed meat – A growing part of global nutrition
There is a fine range of Proudly Zimbabwean processed meat products available in a delicious variety of tastes and textures

There is a fine range of Proudly Zimbabwean processed meat products available in a delicious variety of tastes and textures

Zimbabwe is known as a meat loving nation, where meat makes the meal. Even in lean economic times it is possible to enjoy meat every day in the form of nutritious and appetising processed meat products.

A fine range of Proudly Zimbabwean processed meat products is available today, in a delicious variety of tastes and textures.

At an average wholesale price of $2,70 per kilogram, processed meat products are the cheapest source of meat protein available to consumers, much cheaper than beef or chicken cuts.

There has been major investment of $36 million in meat processing plant and equipment in the last five years. The industry is currently producing 1 900mt of processed meat products a month, worth $5,1 million.

With the population of Zimbabwe expected to reach 17 million by 2025, demand for protein products will increase significantly.

Globally, processed meat is playing an important role in helping to meet the nutrition needs of a growing and now largely urban, world population.

Limited land resources and the high cost of rearing livestock for meat production make whole meat cuts an expensive product.

Meat processing was evolved to nutritionally utilise the remaining edible parts of a chicken, pig and beef animal after it has been processed into the various cuts; and bring a cheaper, but still nourishing, meat product to the market.

Specially processed, these meat leftovers, known as mechanically deboned meat (MDM), are blended with plant products to provide cheaper meat protein.

Another advantage of processing is that it produces shelf-stable meat products that can be stored without refrigeration.

The meat processing sector plays an important complementary role in the meat industry. Processed meat can go a long way in stretching the family budget to put a square meal on the table every day.

Meat processing – adding value all round

The fine array of Proudly Zimbabwean processed meat products on the shop shelves today tells a success story.

The local meat processing industry has been developed around the importation of three ingredients – MDM, casings and seasoning.

This has also created a market for locally produced beef and pork trimmings, chicken skins, vegetable proteins, herbs and spices.

Meat processing is an important cog in agro-industry, and builds on synergies to provide an important market for abattoirs and for utilising soya protein which is a by-product of Zimbabwe’s oil expressing industry.

All the different operations in the meat processing industry – curing, seasoning, smoking, filling of casings and containers, vacuum packaging, cooking, canning and sterilisation – contribute to capacity utilisation, as well as turning out a variety of appetising meat-based products.

This value addition benefits the economy in a number of other ways too. It generates employment and income further down the value chain, for small-scale traders, butcheries, supermarkets and other retailers.

Upstream, meat processing provides an important market for chicken, pig, beef and soya bean farmers.

Setting a global standard

The Meat Processors’ Association of Zimbabwe (MPAZ) is committed to upholding the highest biosafety and hygiene standards in the production, handling and supply of processed meat products.

At the core of its ethics are food safety, employee safety and environmental protection, paramount in consumer expectations today.

MPAZ, established in May 2015, has drafted a Code of Conduct for its members based on recognised global meat safety and quality standards.

As well as strict adherence to domestic biosafety standards right down the production chain, the code undertakes ‘to promote domestic consumption of processed meat products as an affordable source of animal protein’.

First and foremost, the code recognises the stringent meat safety and health regulations governing the meat industry in Zimbabwe.

It sets outs out quality assurance standards that not only require member meat processors to register and licence their operations, but to only contract the services of accredited suppliers, distributors and transporters who meet cold chain and other stringent production standards.

The code also endorses Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, relevant International Standards Organisation as well as Standards Association of Zimbabwe food safety certification.

Keeping the industry competitive

If the meat processing industry is to play its part in producing an affordable and nutritious protein alternative to whole meat, it must be competitive.

Globally the meat processing industry has evolved to be one of the most efficient industries; paring costs to the bone to keep the cost of processed meat significantly lower than that of fresh meat, even though it is a value-added product.

But undermining cost efficiency in the local meat processing industry today is a 40 percent duty imposed on imported MDM despite the fact that there is no local MDM industry to protect.

This has increased the manufacturing cost of processed meat products at a time when the consumer dollar is already stretched.

MDM is an essential imported ingredient and the matrix for the meat processing industry. Most countries with meat processing industries import MDM. It is only in the leading and large meat producing countries of the world that economies of scale make the production of MDM viable.

These countries are able to produce MDM for the global meat processing industry competitively, so that the processed meat products made from MDM are ultimately price competitive in the meat market.

The meat processing industry in Africa, which is expected to play an increasingly important role in food security in the future, imports all its MDM requirements.

South Africa, which now dominates the Zimbabwean food market, does not impose duty on the importation of MDM.

With the highest duty in the region, Zimbabwe is not competitively positioned in the African processed meat market.

As well as being able to keep the cost of processed meat products affordable for Zimbabweans, the industry needs to be competitive to play its full role in capacity utilisation and employment – and ultimately to generate exports and export earnings for the country, through the export of value added products.


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