‘Game industry should cash in on export potential’
Uncertain economic conditions have a direct impact on the game industry, but there is hope that market forces will bring balance this year. This was according to Wiaan van der Linde, deputy president of Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA).
Van der Linde said consumer spending had been limited by the local economic climate and that this had a direct impact on the game industry.
He said there was currently an oversupply of some species, especially rare game, which had a negative effect on prices. However, some relief could be on the horizon as lower prices meant that game farmers could no longer breed these species in intensive, high-input conditions. This forced producers to keep these animals under semi-intensive conditions, which resulted in lower birth rates as fewer feed inputs had a negative impact on animals’ conception rate.
In addition, large numbers of game were hunted in 2018, which also addressed the challenge of oversupply. The effect would, however, only become evident in three to five years, Van der Linde said.
As many game farmers had harvested large numbers of game due to the drought, and some game species numbers were thus still low, biltong hunters could expect slight price increases for game animals.
“If there are price increases it is because game farmers want to protect their [game] numbers,” he said.
The market for game meat was still fairly untapped and had great potential for both exports and local consumption, he added. According to Van der Linde, the country was not taking advantage of the opportunities available to it. Research indicated that there was great potential for game meat exports to the Middle East and Asia, but the necessary trade agreements needed to be put in place to access these markets. Large local teams currently harvested about 500t of game meat a year, but private businesses could establish a large game meat industry if given the opportunity.
Van der Linde said land reform created a lot of uncertainty, but he believed that after the 2019 election an economic climate would be created in which investment was facilitated, and this would spill over to the game industry. “President Cyril Ramaphosa [earlier] announced that he wanted to support the ‘green economy’ and that he wanted to expand the current 20 million hectares of game farms to 30 million hectares through transformation initiatives,” he said. – Gerhard Uys