By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK A United Kingdom-based business marketing consultant contracted by Meatco to conduct research on the Cheetah Country Beef eco-label’s viability has reported relative progress on the completion of the study. In an effort to conserve the endangered predator, the Cheetah Conservation Fund and its partners, the Conservancies Association of Namibia, Meatco and the Meat Board, embarked upon a project that would see Namibia exporting beef under a new label – Cheetah Country Beef. In December 2005, Meatco hired David Bell, a consultant, on a six-month contract to research the viability of launching Cheetah Country Beef in the United Kingdom (UK). The Corporate Communications Manager at Meatco, Uschi Ramakhutla, yesterday told New Era that Bell, who has been involved in extensive product and marketing research and who has worked with specialists in the meat industry, processing, packing, distribution, sales, marketing, and finance sectors is halfway done with the work and soon would put together a comprehensive Cheetah Country Beef business plan. Meatco’s Chief Executive Officer Kobus du Plessis and Marketing Manager Andre Mouton are expected to travel to the U.K. towards the end of next month for the presentation of the findings of the study by the consultant. “In June, this business plan will be presented by Bell to the Meatco Board of Directors. The directors will then determine the feasibility of Cheetah Country Beef and a board decision will be made. “Once a business decision has been made, farmers will be notified immediately,” stated the corporate communications manager. There is no need for farmers to contact Meatco regarding Cheetah Country Beef until a final decision is made on the future of the project, Ramakhutla added. Initially, a few people approached in the targeted markets were not keen with the idea and according to Ramakhutla, the study findings will determine whether the project is viable and the costs of packaging. Bell, who is on a short visit to Namibia, confirmed that the study is complete and that the business plan has already been compiled. Citing a strong understanding of the meat industry in the U.K. as his main challenge, Bell made the assurance that quality work has been done and that in the next two to three weeks, information would be passed on to Meatco for further consideration. The founder of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Otjiwarongo Laurie Marker sees the initiative as the only way of convincing the masses that people and predators can co-exist. “It is a great idea, people in the U.K. are ecstatic and this will benefit both commercial and communal farmers. It shows the value of wildlife and that Namibia has made a name for herself,” stated the cheetah conservationist. Cheetah Country Beef began as a CCF conservation proposal to work with local farmers to sup- port predator-friendly farming. Cheetah Country Beef would be an eco-label for Namibian farmers. Should the project materialise, farmers will be certified and monitored as practising cheetah-friendly livestock management, and in return for being good stewards of the land and wildlife on their farm, will receive a year-end bonus on net profits of Cheetah Country Beef. Consumers in the European Union, and primarily the UK, are the eco-label’s target market. The Cheetah Country Beef concept was created by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), a non-profit organization headquartered in Namibia and dedicated to cheetah research conservation and education programmes. Meatco’s vision is to have the most sought-after meat brands in selected markets in the long-term interests of stakeholders. The Cheetah Country Beef concept is just one way of working towards the vision. Other activities are in place to accomplish the vision as well. Meatco is the largest meat processor in Namibia with abattoirs and meat processing facilities as its core business. Meatco has four abattoirs with the two in Windhoek and Okahandja approved for export to the European Union.
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