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South African firm finds way around EU ostrich export ban

A meat processor has found an innovative way to work around a European Union (EU) ban on South African ostrich products by selling heat-processed meat

The country's ostrich industry received a boost when Klein Karoo International received an order from Germany for 40 tonnes of heat-treated meat as the ban does not apply to meat that has been precooked for three seconds at 70°C.

South Africa's ostrich exports to the EU suffered after six birds tested positive for avian influenza leading to exports to Europe being banned in 2011. The country's exports had previously stood at R108 million (US$13.8 million) before the ban.

Klein Karoo managing director Johan Stumpf said, "We are still in a development phase with the product.

"Although not large compared with annual production, it is significant in terms of a totally new concept to the market. It will go into the shops in May," he added.

Although heat-processed meat does not fetch the same price for farmer as raw ostrich meat, the product is unaffected by the avian flu ban and guarantees an all-year export market.

"Should this be successful, I do think it could be an alternative for the ostrich industry," said Stumpf, adding there had also been positive interest from other European countries.