South African ostrich products might soon be exported to Russia. Anton Kruger, CEO of the South African Ostrich Chamber, recently went on a trade mission to Moscow on behalf of the ostrich industry as part of an initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry to create new market opportunities for South African products. The department invited 26 industries and industry organisations to be part of the mission.
Valuable contacts were established during the mission. One company, SAAJ, which currently uses cattle hide to make handbags, indicated that it was interested in importing ostrich leather in the future. Representatives of the company might come to South Africa around September for training in the use of ostrich leather for handbag manufacturing, if everything goes according to plan.
Kruger said that the demand in Russia for luxury goods like ostrich leather is increasing as a result of the country’s growing economy. “Russian consumers have become very style- and quality-conscious and were impressed by the processes and products of the South African ostrich industry.”
The industry has been increasing awareness of ostrich leather in Russia since 2006 by presenting an ostrich-leather briefcase to Russian President Vladimir Putin and by sponsoring two South African fashion designers to participate in the recent Moscow Fashion Week, where ostrich leather designs were featured.
The Muscovites have also shown keen interest in ostrich meat, which is well known as a healthy alternative to beef. Russia currently has barriers on the import of any meat from the African continent, which prevents the export of ostrich meat to Russia. However, the South African Department of Trade and Industry is renegotiating this ban.
Negotiating the export of ostrich leather will be much easier than negotiating trade agreements for meat, as this product is not in competition with any local Russian products, according to Kruger. – Glenneis Erasmus