Archive for April 2013

Size of Ostrich Meat Market

Newsletter No. 57 - Items 2 - 3

This newsletter contained signficant data on meat consumption in all regions to illustrate the market potential for ostrich meat and attempt to answer the question "what is the size of the ostrich meat market?"

World Meat Consumption Data

The FAO have been updating their database system and providing improved data, with a greater breakdown of the alternative meats, the market that Ostrich are sold into when doing a request for consumption of all meat.  Previously we had Bovine, Pigs, Sheep and Goat, Poultry and other meats.  Today, Turkey and Chicken meat have separate categories.  Duck, Goose and Guinea Fowl also have their own separate category. Ostrich, because of the low levels of production, currently fall into ‘Other meats’, not elsewhere classified (inc. Camel and game).

We are continually asked about the size of our markets.   Therefore this month’s newsletter will focus on publishing the data with further discussion on how to establish the size of the market.  I have downloaded some of the most relevant consumption data and graphed it for easy analyses.  I have printed them in a pdf document and can be viewed here.  That document formed a supplement to this newsletter. The statistics are not direct comparisons to those published in earlier newsletters as the format in which they are now presented and the country groupings have changed with the new database.

Market Size

There are two aspects when discussing market size.

a.         Existing Market
The ostrich meat has been available for sale for no more than 15 years, with limited production and sales slow to develop as a result of such things as :

  • Low volume
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Inconsistent supply
    • Aggravated by interrupted exports from South Africa as a result of Avian Influenza, Newcastle Disease and Congo Fever
  • Fragmented supply
  • Limited marketing

b.         Potential Market
Understanding the potential market should be the area of focus in order to develop a sustainable industry, provided there is production to support the development and the meat produced to an acceptable quality, consistently supplied and at the right price.

Figure 1 confirms the continual rapid growth of meat consumption that continues to be driven by increasing wealth in developing countries.  The total meat market (excluding fish) has grown from in excess of 150 million tonnes in 1990 to 240 million tonnes in 2005.  That is a growth rate of almost 60% in 15 years, thus confirming the predictions of significant growth in meat consumption.

World Meat Consumption

Figure 1 - Size of Ostrich Market

The consumption of all other meats Rabbit, Equine, “Duck Goose and Guinea Fowl” and “Meat Not Elsewhere Classified (including camel and game)” - as illustrated in Figure 1 - is a very small percentage of the total consumption.  The major reason for this is the lack of efficiencies in production of those species that make up that group.  However, it is still a group showing rapid growth, moving from just short of 8 million tonnes to in excess of 13 million tonnes over 15 years (Figure 2).

meat consumption by region

Figure 2 - Meat Consumption by Region

Figure 2 illustrates the regional distribution of consumption of other meats.   A PDF supplement to this newsletter contains a number of graphics as detailed in Table 1.   We are a World Association, therefore it is important to reflect the variations in consumption by region as our markets are all different.  Slide 6 illustrates the consumption of other meats in the different regions and, when studied, readers will be amazed at the significant variations from region to region.   No two regions are the same.


Table 1 - Supplement Index

So what is the size of the potential size of the market?  To capture just 1% of the world 2005 alternative meat market requires nearly 3m slaughter ostriches/annum.

What is the size of your market potential?

The answer to that question depends on a number of factors - such as:

  • Location
    • Local Market
    • Export market
      • If export market, which market and can you meet the protocols required
  • Identifying your target market
    • Red meat market
    • Low fat meat
    • Cheap meat – commodity market
      • Buyers on open market with limited (if any) supplier loyalty
      • Low price
    • Exclusive Meat – low supply seeking product differentiation
      • Seeking specialty product
      • Recognises need to pay premium price
      • Requires confirmed consistency of supply
  • Production costs
    • Influence selling price required for profitability
  • Ability to supply consistently
    • With Ostrich this requires production systems that ensure:
    • Consistent egg laying
    • Consistent hatchability
    • Minimal mortality
    • Consistent days to slaughter required to achieve meat yields
  • Quality of product for target market
  • Selling price sufficient to sustain consistent supply

Understanding fully the controlling influences of that final point is the key to progressing this industry and to date remains the barrier to progress.

What is our market?

Newsletter 56 - Item 4

After discussing the increasing demand for meat protein this newsletter went onto discuss the markets for Ostrich.  The discussions are as true today - 2013 - as they were when first published.

What is our Market?
Clearly, this large increase in meat demand offers tremendous market potential for ostrich.  To supply that market, volumes have to increase significantly.  I would suggest it requires a phased approach to the markets while building sustainable growth to achieve the volumes required to support that increased demand for meat protein.   The phased approach described below can apply to whichever country one is working in, as every country has a high-end market and many cannot export to the highest value markets.  Establishing the markets in one’s own country first should remain a priority.

Phase 1:
When volumes are low, production costs are high. This is aggravated by the fact that management systems to support the production potential of the current genetics and start a genetic improvement program have not yet been introduced and applied to ostrich. The markets willing to pay above average prices demand a consistent product and reliable supply they can depend on.

Health issues, animal welfare concerns and increasing wealth are among the influences that are changing meat consumption habits in the European, North American and other high end markets.  In these markets, consumers have sufficient wealth that they can afford to be selective in their choices of meat and willing to pay a premium.  Other meats – the category ostrich falls under - as discussed in Newsletter No. 40, currently account for around 4% of total meat consumed worldwide (30% in Europe). This market would be considerably larger if there was a consistent supply in sufficient volume and produced at commercially attractive prices.

Examples of meats classified as alternative meats are Buffalo/Bison, Venison, Kangaroo, Crocodile, Rabbit, Wild Boar and Reindeer.  As illustrated here Ostrich is proven to have the potential for commercial production on sufficient scale to compliment pig and poultry production as major suppliers of meat protein, when applying the right techniques to their production.  Buffalo and Venison are both ruminant meats.  Not only are ruminants less feed efficient, they also have other negative environmental concerns.

This top end of the meat market is willing to pay premium prices.  Supplying these markets provides the additional revenue while volumes are low and production costs are high.   These markets are serviced by specialist buyers supplying the retail and service industry at the top end of the market that purchase in lower volume and willing to pay a premium for a specialist meat.

This puts the industry on the path to sustainable production that is more able to provide data to effectively predict production.  Data is required to support protocols laid down by the larger buyers.  These protocols are becoming increasingly important as pressure increases from not only the animal rights lobbyists but also from the consumer concerned how the animals they eat are raised and fed.

Phase 2:
As production increases, with increasing data becoming available, it will become possible to selectively supply the high end supermarkets. These outlets demand absolute consistency of supply and quality. Some of these are prepared to pay a premium for the quality product that differentiates them from the high volume outlets, but still require greater volume than is currently available or predicted in the first years.

Phase 3:
Phase 3 is reached when there is sufficient volume to supply all demand. At this point the meat becomes a commodity, and some specialist companies will probably differentiate their products to achieve firmer prices, as we currently experience in pig and poultry production.

The production of ostrich meat peaked in 2002 with over 550,000 slaughter birds produced in that year, the number today is less than half.  Production remains around 60% in South Africa with the balance spread amongst a dozen different regions, all lacking coordinated production providing erratic volume and quality.  South African production especially has been disrupted a number of times over the years with health issues in their herd resulting in closure of their export borders.

The European buyers have witnessed their sales halved through lack of supply, not lack of demand.  Ostrich will only get past Phase 1 with the introduction of modern production systems capable of supporting their production potential.


Increasing Demand for Meat Protein

Newsletter No. 56 - Item 3

The following are all interesting articles discussing the future demand for meat protein, the driving forces and the problems this creates.  Please click on the title to download and read each article, they discuss some important and interesting issues:

Can we Feed the Animals?  (Short version)
China’s rapidly growing meat demand: a domestic or an international challenge?
How to feed 2 billion more mouths in 2030? Here are some answers

There are many more articles available with similar discussions - last month’s issue of World Poultry (Oct 2007) carried an article on a similar topic, but that is not yet published on the Internet.   This is a brief summary of their content:

  • further confirmation of the increasing demand for meat protein
  • that increase coming in developing countries driven by the increasing buying power of consumers in those countries
  • developed countries have reached their growth limit when measured in volume as people have a finite daily consumption of meat
  • poultry likely to take the bulk of the increase because of religious constraints on pig meat consumption
  • increased production likely to come in developing countries because of reduced production costs
  • meat production coming mainly from grains in developed countries
  • developing countries produce meat from grazing, crop residues and household waste
  • pressure on our natural resources to produce the additional production
  • technology improving to help provide sustainable agriculture

Ostrich has a role to play in contributing to the increased demand.   As we mention regularly, with ostrich we have one of the most feed efficient of all farmed animals and is probably the most feed efficient of all red meat production animals, when farmed in the right way.  Ostrich meat is acceptable to most religious groups including those unable to eat pig meat, thus providing an alternative to poultry meat – not a replacement, just providing more variability for these consumers.

The table below illustrates the days to slaughter for broiler chicken and different types of pigs, their live-weight and their feed conversion.  It is interesting to compare these figures against the production potential of ostrich.  The figures for ostrich assume 5 years and 10 years of development from introducing management systems that support high levels of production and nutrition that supports the full genetic production potential in the same manner that pig and poultry production has achieved.

Comparative Production Data
Comparative Production Data

How many days do you currently take to get your bird’s to slaughter, what is their liveweight, what are the meat yields and what is the feed conversion?  Whether your production is large or small these are essential measurements of performance to optimise in order to achieve sustainable commercial viability.   Optimising the ability to convert feed efficiently requires fewer resources to produce the meat.  The fewer days taken to take to slaughter, the less area required,  less water to drink and never forgetting that when we feed the birds for maximum production as much as 40% of an ostrich slaughter bird ration is Alfalfa, thus reducing the demand for grains while providing an excellent rotational crop.

During the past month, I have again read articles about excited small producers discussing grazing their ostrich.  We must warn members that depending on grazing grass for ostrich usually results in disappointing results with high levels of chick mortality and other metabolic problems.  It will never be possible to achieve the production efficiencies previously discussed when dependent on grazing ostrich.


Ostrich Veterinary Health Plan

Newsletter No 55 - Item 3 & 4

An important element of any assurance scheme is the Veterinary Health Plan.

The Veterinary Health Plan (VHP) is a requirement of most Farm Assurance Schemes and retailers “codes of practice”.

The VHP is a document agreed between the farm’s vet and the farm management working in partnership.  The plan involves regular visits by the farm’s own vet.  The recommendation is the same vet carries out these visits to maintain consistency.

VHPs need to address a number of areas to achieve those objectives, such as:

-  flock security/biosecurity
-  basic performance parameters
-  the monitoring of body condition
-  general ostrich welfare
-  basic disease control programmes
-  recording, monitoring and controlling disease on the farm
-  the use of medicines, vaccines, their safety and their recording

This newsletter focused on the veterinary health plan as it applies to ostrich, as most vets will admit that information on ostrich is limited.  (Note at 2013 this statement remains true).  The way to approach the development of an Ostrich specific plan is to look at the plans designed for other species and then adapt them to ostrich. Just like the Business Plan, the Veterinary Health Plan is a living document that will be under continual review to improve and update with experience and current market conditions.

Flock Security
The ability to supply markets on a consistent basis is paramount to success of any business. The most influential management area that controls consistent supply in livestock production is the control of disease.  Consistency of product quality is also extremely important, but only relevant once the security of supply is under management control.

The role of the VHP is to help identify weaknesses in farm production that influence the ability to limit the impact of disease.

Basic Performance Parameters
These are examples with ostrich of some of the basic performance parameters that provide an indication as to the success of the management systems to deliver good health and welfare as well as profit:

-  egg fertility

-  feed conversion

-  egg hatchability

-  deaths

-  hatching difficulties

-  injuries

-  breeder culling rates

-  incidence and type of lameness

-  percentage chick to slaughter/breeder

-  medicine use and reason

-  metabolic diseases

The WOA benchmark targets are very achievable performance parameters.

Monitoring Body Condition
Currently there are very few references on how to establish optimal body condition of ostrich.   Figure 1 below illustrate the extremes currently experienced in the industry.  The hen on the left is very thin with poor feather quality when compared to the hen on the right.  You will notice also, how little muscle this hen has across her back by comparison to the hen on the right.

The hen on the left had a ration that was mainly grain based, with limited vitamins and minerals.  The hen on the right received rations that are of high nutrient value with high levels of vitamins and minerals.

comparative hens

Figure 1 - Comparative Hens

Apart from visual inspection, the way to physically assess the body condition of ostrich:

Quote: When the backbone at the highest place on the bird's back is protruding above the surrounding flesh, the bird is too thin. When the backbone at the highest place on the bird's back is indented below the surrounding flesh, the bird is too fat and needs decreased feed—or a different feed formulation.  The optimum Body Condition is when the backbone at the highest point on their back is perfectly even with the surrounding flesh End Quote [1].

3.4.  General Ostrich Welfare
At the most basic level, this covers the internationally recognised five freedoms. These basic freedoms are:

-  Freedom from hunger and thirst
By ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour

- Freedom from discomfort
By providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area

- Freedom from pain, injury or disease
By prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment

- Freedom to express normal behaviour
By providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind

- Freedom from fear and distress
By ensuring conditions and care which avoid mental suffering

Top of that list is freedom from hunger.  The current poor production results – variable egg production and low conversion of eggs to slaughter/mature birds, is a key indicator that the industry in general is failing to achieve that first freedom through the inadequate supply of the right nutrients in the diet.

Basic Disease Control Programs
Strategies, procedures and the recording of general policies fall into this category.

- cleansing and hygiene policies including disinfectants used
§ Buildings
§ Pens
§ Water Troughs
§ Feed Troughs
- pest control (including rodents and birds)
- parasite controls (internal and external)
- hospital and isolation pens
- casualty slaughter

Recording, Monitoring and Controlling disease on farm
Good records are the key to not only monitoring disease issues but also performance trends as the two are closely linked.  A drop in production is a sign of possible disease problems.  Another cause for a drop in production, and/or more serious health problems, can be a feed problem.  Feed problems can be such things as a bad ingredient, sudden change of ingredient, poor mixing or insufficient water intake.

In addition to the normal farm production and feed data, the type of records required relating to disease are:

- Diseases identified
- Age of animal affected
- Method of Treatment
- Method of Control
- Review Periods
- Effectiveness of control programs

The movement records of any animals moved onto the farm or off the farm are also of importance in monitoring and controlling disease.

The use of medicines, vaccines, their safety and their recording
This section covers the recording of all medicines used in the unit.  The VHP should follow the legal requirements of the country in which the business is operating and include any additional requirements imposed by country the unit is exporting or buyer.  The type of information required is:

- the date treatment commenced
- the animal it is used on
- its identification and location
- the condition or disease treated
- the medicine used
- the batch number of the bottle
- the dose rate given
- the number of days that the medicine is used
- the withdrawal period in days
- the date at which the withdrawal period expires (the date of clearance)
- a note of who has administered the medicine
- details of all medicines purchased

Also included in this section are the procedures for:

-  the safe disposal of all clinical waste
-  storage of medicines
-  off-label use of medicines

Off-label use of medicines is the use of a product not licensed for the specie treated.  This is very common with ostrich as there are very few, if any, approved medicines for ostrich in most countries.  The laws will vary in different countries, but generally, this is allowed provided the medicine has a licence for food-producing species with an approved meat withdrawal period.  Check the law within your country and any country the unit exports meat to.

The role of Nutrition in Disease Control
The role of that nutrition in the control of disease is well documented and becoming increasingly important with governments eliminating the use of antibiotics in meat producing livestock.

This quote from a publication issued this month relates to human nutrition, but the same principles apply to livestock nutrition.  The article relates to Vitamin D.

Quote:  Meanwhile two other studies recently claimed that if we all got adequate amounts of this vitamin it would be possible to cut rates of breast, prostate and colon cancer by 50%.  And that’s not all – yet another research paper by researchers at the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta suggested that the reason we are all more likely to get colds and flu in the winter could be because that’s the time it’s hard to get enough Vitamin D.  Its role as an infection fighter could maybe used to tackle new enemies like bird flu, tuberculosis and MRSA. End quote[2]

When reading any discussion on the effect of a single nutrient, always remember that nutrients work in harmony with other essential nutrients.  The role of nutrition in human and animal health to fight disease and building a strong immune system is the foundation for disease control.  


[1] Daryl Holle Body Condition is Most Important:

[2] Patrick Holford Special Report No. 18 – Vitamin D – you are almost certainly not getting enough


Newsletter No. 55 - Item 2

Here and hereediscussed "Marketing Starting on the Farm".  This newsletter carried on that theme to illustrate just why this is so important in our current global market place.

GAP is an abbrevaiont for Good Agricultural Practices.

EurepGap becomes GLOBALGAP
We regularly discuss the increasing importance of assurance schemes, codes and standards in food production.  To illustrate further the impact of globalisation in the production of food, EurepGap has now become GLOBALGAP.  This is the press release announcing the change of title and logo.

Quote:  Bangkok, 7th September 07 – Using its eighth annual conference being held in Thailand this week as an appropriate platform, EUREPGAP has announced it is changing its title and logo to GLOBALGAP.

The decision has been taken to reflect its expanding international role in establishing Good Agricultural Practices mutually agreed between multiple retailers and their suppliers.

In ten years since its inception - initially targeted at Europe - the voluntary organisation has seen its influence spread and led to the creation of identical criteria adopted as far afield as South and Central America, Africa, Australasia, and most recently Japan and Thailand.

Established equivalent schemes such ChileGAP, ChinaGAP, KenyaGAP, MexicoGAP, JGAP (Japan) and most recently ThaiGAP, are backed by national governments, retailers, producers and exporters.

"Currently GLOBALGAP covers over 80,000 certified producers in no less than 80 counties with others expected to follow," explains Chairman Nigel Garbutt.  "It has meant that through the adoption of good agricultural practices subject to regular independent monitoring that committed producers regardless of their scale can compete on an equal footing.

"The reason for the name change is that it now makes common sense to clarify our far wider role at a time when both producers and retailers are operating on an international level across national boundaries.

Kristian Moeller Secretary GLOBALGAP added, "By positively aligning ourselves in this way, it allows us to identify and fit more closely and more clearly into the global supply chain.”

“The re-naming will be accompanied by a significantly improved website which will meet the information needs of our increasingly wider range of stakeholders.”

As at 2013 the GlobalGAP contiues to develop and provides an illustration on the requirements on of the modern meat markets as can be seen by this document from their website.