Biltong of great value to SA economy

“South Africa’s sales and export of venison is a small business with a lot of potential".

by: Prof Melville Saayman | 16 Feb 2015

Biltong contributes more than R2.5 billion to the South African economy. This was the finding of an exploratory research project conducted under the guidance of Prof Melville Saayman, director of the research institute TREES (Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society) at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University, to determine the popularity and value of biltong and venison within the South African economy.

A research survey was also conducted with butchers and stakeholders in the meat industry in an attempt to determine how growth in the game industry can be cultivated.

“For the first time we have an idea of biltong’s value – we now have a figure to support our findings. To be honest, it is higher than anticipated, and it still is a conservative amount since we did not include supermarkets. It is heart-warming to see that this culture product is well-established,” Saayman said.

According to him the time is ripe for biltong to make its mark on international markets, “It is a genuine South African product which has the potential to become just as well-known and popular as Nando’s and Amarula. Perhaps it is time that the government obtain copyrights on the name biltong, as was the case with Rooibos. This is a new challenge for the government.” [See biltong being mentioned in this episode of A & E reality TV show, Duck Dynasty].

To determine the value of biltong, Saayman and his team worked from the premise that South Africa has one butcher’s shop for each of its 278 municipalities. The average mass of meat sold was multiplied with the number of municipalities after which the resulting number was multiplied with the average price per kilogram. It was found that venison biltong has a value of R237 772 288 and that beef biltong has a value of R2 475 899 136. The combined value is thus more than R27 000 000 000.

The most important price drivers for biltong are the cost of the animal, the processing of the meat and the popularity of the meat used. With regard to venison, 35% of respondents indicated that kudu is the most popular venison, followed by springbok, impala, eland, wildebeest, blesbok and ostrich. Only 5% of respondents indicated that gemsbok is popular and only 1% indicated warthog.

Saayman is of the opinion that these products deserve better marketing, “South Africa’s sales and export of venison is a small business with a lot of potential (our game numbers and variation taken into account). We may even be the best in the world. Recent negotiation with the European Union to increase game export is a step in the right direction. Should it be approved, the process will lead to large-scale job creation. There is a significant demand for products like venison in Asia. It is an emerging market which has not yet been exploited and we must jump at the opportunity to be the first to establish trade. But our venison needs better marketing.”

This task can certainly lead to culinary pleasures.

“Maybe it is time for our celebrity chefs on television and radio to show us what they can do with venison. Venison is not only biltong. There are fantastic recipes for venison.”

Try this grilled venison loin with vanilla mash and whisky sauce or a comforting prune and venison pie - perfect for Winter with a juicy glass of red wine. For more biltong-inspired recipes, click here.

Respondents made the following recommendations with regard to venison:

• Venison should be made more widely available
• Venison should be marketed as a safe, high-quality product
• Venison should be promoted for its health benefits
• Venison should be less expensive

What are your thoughts on biltong? 


Read more on: biltong  |  snacks  |  south african

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