South Africa comprises a total surface area of 1 224 997 square kilometres or 122.5 million hectares. Of this, approximately 84 % or 103 million hectares is available for farming. A large part of the Republic is not suitable for crop cultivation, with the result that approximately only 11 % can be cultivated.
The greatest part of South Africa is only suitable for extensive stock farming, be it beef cattle, sheep, goats or game. It is therefore no coincidence that the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy (ISRDS, 2004) identified livestock farming as the agricultural enterprise with the most likely chance of improving household food security and addressing poverty alleviation in the small-scale communal farming areas of South Africa.
Animal production in the world compared to Africa and the RSA
South Africa produces 21.4 % of the total meat produced on the continent of Africa and 1 % of global meat production. With a livestock industry contributing 34.1 % to the total domestic agricultural production and providing 36 % of the population’s protein needs, it is logical that the Red Meat Industry has reached a stage where not only quantitative aspects of production are important but more emphasis will have to be placed on the biological and technological aspects affecting meat quality characteristics. It is vital to take cognisance of changing consumer tastes and preferences in dynamic local and international markets, therefore market and consumer related research is of utmost importance.
Gross value of certain individual agricultural products
During a 12-year period (1998 to 2010) the contribution of livestock to the total gross value of agricultural production has increased from around 40 % to nearly 50%. The contribution of red meat to the total value of production of livestock products increased from about 25 % in 1998 to over 30 % in 2010. In terms of the total value of production, the red meat industry’s contribution increased from around 11 % in 1998 to nearly 15 % in 2010. The largest contributor was from beef followed by sheep then goats and lastly pork.
Meat’s share of private consumption expenditure has increased from 25.6 % in 2000 to 32.8 % in 2010. The share of bread and grain products in private consumption expenditure on the other hand decreased from 27.5 % to 26.4 % over the decade.