BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

CUMULATIVE imports of mechanically deboned meat (MDM) for the four months to April this year declined by 53% compared to the same period last year as local processors substituted MDM with local products to offset high procurement costs.

Data gathered from the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) shows that during the first four months of this year, the country managed to import MDM amounting to 370 metric tonnes (mt), with the average procurement cost increasing by 72% to $743 per mt.

Average monthly imports from January to April 2020 was 93mt, compared to 195mt over the same period in 2019.

“The depreciation in the exchange rate continues to shrink the relative cost differential between imported MDM and locally sourced animal meat protein alternatives, hence local processors are substituting MDM with local products,” LMAC said.

Data indicates that total value of MDM imports amounted to US$274 623, whereas in the same period in 2019, the value was US$338 400.

The global meat processing industry is expected to experience headwinds following the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic and a few processing plants in some countries have been temporarily shut after employees tested positive.

As the hospitality industry is also under lockdown, LMAC said the disruption to the sector was significant, with negative economic implications in the short-term.

LMAC said a total of 18mt of sausage casings at a value of US$286 390 were imported in the period under review, a decline of 39% in quantity and an increase of 19% in value of imports compared with the same period last year, respectively.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019, the disease has spread to almost 200 countries around the globe and the World Health Organisation has declared it a public health emergency.

The global impacts are already starting to be felt and will significantly affect the market for natural sausage casings in 2020, LMAC said.

“Flight and accommodation cancellations, travel bans and quarantine periods, the closure of restaurants and restrictions of events have significantly impacted upon the supply chain,” it said.

However, in the long-term, LMAC said the recovery of the global sausage casings market would be driven primarily by factors such as growth in fast food restaurants, increasing household consumption of processed meat products and the growing meat processing industry in emerging markets.

“Threats to this growth are likely to be factors such as higher costs of production post-COVID and in Zimbabwe, supply will depend on the availability of foreign currency,” it said.

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