Relevance of the formal red meat classification system to the South African informal livestock sector
In 1992 the South African meat industry was deregulated and this led to the formation of the new Marketing of Agricultural Products Act, Act no. 47 of 1996. The Act made provisions for producers to sell animals to customers of their own choice at mutually agreed prices. Thus, producers in the informal sector took advantage of the free marketing system. The result was a substantial increase in the number of animals slaughtered in the informal sector. Unfortunately the requirements for animal identification are not always observed in this sector. Challenges faced by communal farmers which include the multipurpose roles of livestock, lack of slaughter facilities within reasonable distance and lack of access to market information make them less willing to sell their animals through the formal market. The formal market is characterised by meat inspection and carcass classification which scare away the communal farmers for fear of income loss through animal condemnation. The informal sector might not recognise the importance of formal carcass classification. There is need to direct research and development efforts to address marketing constraints faced by communal farmers, and to promote formal marketing of livestock for meat quality assurance and a fair return to the farmers. This review seeks to assess the relevance of formal classification of red meat carcasses to the informal sector, make recommendations on ways to ameliorate the undesirable effect of the classification system on the informal sector, and identify possible areas which need further research to develop the classification system in South Africa.
Keywords: Communal farmers, marketing system, meat industry