This project aimed to develop high-quality free-range beef products from cattle from emerging and communal farmer herds to cost-effectively meet the preferences of South African beef consumers.
Beef production is an important farming practice in the Republic of South Africa. Cattle from poor rural communities comprise about 40% of the national herd but are relatively unproductive and non-profitable, contributing only 5% to South Africa's gross domestic product from beef. Grain-fed beef supplied from commercial feedlots dominates the beef market. Many emerging and smallholder farmers prefer to keep pasture-fed, older animals, and these deliver lower market prices. A study conducted during the design of this project demonstrated that there is niche consumer demand for the kind of meat produced by these farmers.
This project investigated whether a high-value beef product/s can be developed from these animals to meet consumers' needs, which is cost-effective for all players in the value chain to produce and deliver. Building on previous ACIAR work with cattle farmer networks (Beef Profit Partnerships), it developed and delivered tools to enable farmers to better understand consumer and market preferences, and to make more effective business decisions.
The research could help emerging and smallholder farmers to produce better cattle, improve incomes for rural communities, and supply more local meat for South Africa's consumers.