Oudtshoorn, the capital of ostrich industry, has been enjoying prosperity from ostrich farming since the 1880s. These big-eyed birds provide jobs to the locals and attract tourists from all over the world. Before I went on this trip to South Africa, I never knew ostrich farming could be turned into a profitable business. During the visit, I observed several advantages and disadvantages of ostrich farming.
One of the greatest advantages to the ostrich farmer is that very little is wasted when ostrich meat is processed. Most everything from an ostrich can be a source of profits. The meat can be sold to restaurants for food, the skin can be sold to leather manufacturers to be used in making fashion products, and the feathers can be used for making dusting tools. Waste costs are avoided and revenue can be generated in many ways, thereby maximizing profits.
Another advantage of ostrich farming is that farmers do not need to invest in large amounts of land to feed the birds. Only 1/3 of an acre of land is required to raise a pair of ostriches. Minimal investment costs make it easy for the business to expand. It also attracts new investors and increases the overall investment base of the industry, which helps boost the general economy in South Africa.
There is also a large potential market for ostrich meat because it tastes very similar to beef. However, it is much healthier because it is significantly lower in fat and cholesterol. South Africa's main export destinations for ostrich meat are New Zealand and Belgium. It has not yet expanded to the Asian or American markets yet. Since people are becoming more concerned with their health and the number of health conscious consumers are increasing in these two markets, it presents opportunities for South African ostrich farmers to introduce healthy ostrich meat to the Asian and American markets.
The lack of efficiency in production is the biggest problem in the South African ostrich industry. This is due to the fact that the country is lacking skilled and experienced workers at the production level. It is also because the production technology is outdated, and therefore, it cannot keep pace with the current demand. Another problem is that the ostrich meat is very expensive. The high price impedes the expansion of these businesses because only a limited number of people can afford ostrich meat products.
In short, ostriches are proven to have significant production potential, but achieving that potential will require the industry to improve production efficiency and work to provide consumers with reasonable prices.