EU declares SA Bird-Flu-Free; Ostrich Exports resume after 4-Year-Ban

Finally a break for some live stock farmer: The European Union lifted a four-year ban on fresh ostrich meat after SA was declared free of bird flu.

“Resuming exports to the EU will play an important role in increasing the number of jobs in this industry, which currently employs over 50 000,” Alan Winde, the Western Cape minister for economic opportunities, said in an e-mailed statement. The Western Cape is the country’s main exporter of ostrich meat, chicks, feathers and eggs in an industry that is estimated to be worth more than ZAR 1bn. The EU instituted the ban in April 2011 following an outbreak of the H5N2 substring of bird flu.

The ostrich industry has taken steps to mitigate the financial risk should avian influenza break out again, said Francois de Wet, chairperson of the Ostrich Business Chamber. “The local ostrich industry is far less dependent on fresh meat as a product than it was in 2011,” he said by phone. The ostrich sector almost managed to recover after the EU embargo as demand and prices for ostrich leather increased due to fashion trends, he said.

Before the ban, SA was slaughtering 230 000 ostriches annually for their meat. When the EU imposed the embargo, this tumbled to 120 000 and then recovered to 190 000 by 2013 because of demand by fashion houses such as Kering SA’s Gucci and Prada SpA, De Wet said. Developing and producing pre-cooked ostrich meat was another of the risk-mitigation measures, with South Africa being the only country to do so, he said. “We are exporting about 600 tons of it a year and hope to increase this as the demand for the meat is rising because it has very low cholesterol and fat content,” De Wet said.

I believe, I can fly …..yet again!

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