Kenya’s meat industry is one of the fastest-growing sub-sectors in the agricultural sector, driven by rising human population, urbanization and improving household incomes. Meat production accounts for over three-quarters of the output in the livestock sub-sector. It engages about 40% of households in Kenya, which keep livestock that is eventually slaughtered for meat.
According to the National Census of 2019 and the Statistics Unit in the State Department of Livestock, the domestic supply of meat to feed the 50 million residents of Kenya relies on a population pool of 19.6 million cattle, 27.3 million sheep, 35 million goats, and 4.8 million camels, for red meat. White meat is supplied from poultry (which includes 46 million indigenous chicken, 5.6 million exotic layers, 4.9 million exotic broilers, and 1.2 million other related species), 600,000 pigs and 730,000 rabbits. More than half of the ruminant livestock (60%) is found in the ASALs, employing more than 90% of the population.
Meat is classified according to the source animal species. Cattle provide beef; sheep give mutton; goats give chevon; poultry gives chicken; pigs give pork; while camels, donkeys and rabbits give camel meat, donkey meat and rabbit meat, respectively. Further classification depends on the animal’s age and the specific section of the animal where the cut is made. For instance, veal is meat from newborn calves (primarily male), and rump steak is a cut from the rump of cattle.
Estimated current meat production in Kenya is 756,000 metric tons of meat, comprised of 658,000 MT of red meat from the ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats and camels) and 98,000 metric tons of white meat (from poultry, rabbits and pigs). Kenyans consume an average of 16kg of beef per capita annually, a total national demand of 800,000 MT of red meat per year, indicating a rising deficit of supply from production.
Red meat is comprised of beef, mutton, chevon and camel meat. Beef is the most important red meat providing 70%, while sheep and goats provide 28% and camels 2%. To provide this volume of red meat, close to 3 million heads of cattle and 10 million sheep and goats are slaughtered annually. This implies that we consume about 15% of our cattle herd annually and 16% of our sheep and goat (shoat) flock annually. Our beef production is 528,000 MT, whereby ASALs give 370,000 Mt of beef and the dairy culls 158,400MT
The number of cattle slaughtered for beef has been on a steady increase of 7.4% annually to the current figure. The country’s current per capita beef consumption is 9kg against the recommended per capita consumption of 12 kg as per SDG. Beef production plans project that by 2030 beef production will exceed consumption and provide an opportunity for substantial meat exports.
Sheep and goats (including dairy goats and wool sheep) are the sources of mutton and chevon, respectively. Most of the shoats are raised in our ASALs, while dairy goats and wool sheep are reared in medium and high potential areas.
From the sheep population of 27.2 million heads with a capital value of KES 56.6 billion, we produce 50,810 MT of mutton valued at KES 23.4 billion. The goat flock of 35 million heads, valued at KES 141.6 billion, produces 50,500 MT of chevon valued at KES 25.6 billion.
The current per capita consumption of chevon and mutton is 0.76 kg and 0.5 kg, respectively. This is lower than the recommended 2.4kg as per SDG for each. This projects to push consumption to a combined 326,000 MT for both types of meat. To meet the resultant demand, the population of sheep and goats would have to grow two-fold and face critical challenges that include the adverse effects of climate change.
The 2019 census enumerated 4.8 million heads of camels in Kenya with a capital value estimated at KES 190 billion. Besides meat production, estimated at 57,569 MT tons valued at KES 25.3 billion, camels are the primary source of livelihood among pastoralists in ASAL areas of Kenya.
Source of white meat are poultry, rabbits and pigs
The poultry industry is one fastest growing (registers 6% growth) pro-poor livestock enterprises in the rural areas, where over 70 per cent of the country’s population live and derive their livelihoods. The industry has the potential to transform the living standards of its players.
The annual poultry meat production is 88 Million metric tons, valued at KES 48.6 Billion. Chicken constitute 98% of the total poultry population, while other poultry species like ducks, turkeys, pigeons, ostriches, guinea fowls and quails, which account for 2%, are increasingly becoming important.
The current poultry consumption is 76,135 MT based on a per capita consumption of 2.4 kg, against the recommended 12 kg as per WHO. The projected poultry meat consumption by 2030 will be 797,995MT based on the recommended consumption per capita. This volume of meat is expected to be raised by 371,998,098 broilers producing 557,997 MT and 1,487,992,392 indigenous chicken producing 239,398 MT. Opportunities for poultry production and value addition are enormous and have to be exploited if the industry is to keep pace with consumer demands.
The major challenges that may hinder the growth of the poultry industry include low productivity and loss of genetic diversity in indigenous chicken, inadequate processing facilities, poor marketing infrastructure, high prevalence of diseases, lack of customized business and financial service portfolios to suit the enterprise and inadequate research
The pigs’ industry is in the hands of small-scale farmers who make 70% of all pig farmers. There are 595,631 pigs in Kenya that give a pork production of 14,440MT with a value of KES 3.8 billion annually. The number of pigs slaughtered has increased by 7.8% from 2018 to reach 388,200.
The current per capita consumption of pork stands at 0.4 kg, against the recommended 0.8 kg by WHO, projecting that an estimated 19,033 MT of pork is required to meet the current demand. By 2030, the projected demand based on the recommended consumption per capita stands at 53,160 MT. The projected population of pigs by 2030 is 1,171,175.
Rabbit meat annual production is estimated at 2,800 MT.
The industry’s growth is constrained by inadequate housing, limited access to quality breeding stock, high cost and poor-quality feeds, limited processing facilities, poor animal health services, low-value addition and market access and low investment and funding of research and development. The industry requires formulation and implementation of appropriate interventions to progressively realize the potential of increasing household incomes, food security and employment to the players.
Author: Patrick Munyua from the State Department of Livestock.