The Newsletter #15 referenced the Strategic Planning Exercise that was carried out during a conference of the IOA in 1999, but never implemented. Below is the report that I wrote at the time and Blue Mountain published under the Nutritional Bulletin Series. As can be seen the situation as analysed at the time is as accurate today as it was then.
(The following is reprinted by permission of Blue Mountain Feeds, Inc.)
Ostrich Nutrition Bulletin #41
June 12th 1999
By: Fiona Benson
4th Meeting of the International Ostrich Association, Part 2, 3rd - 10th June, 1999
Two days of the meeting were devoted to a Strategic Planning Process. The South African Industry had
done a similar exercise last July. My reason for reporting on this in detail is that so many of the issues that affect us all were analysed by those very active in all aspects of the production chain and working hard to take the industry forward through sharing their knowledge gained from experience. I hope it will provide you all with some explanations as to why you may not currently be making the returns you expected, provide you with an indication of the potential and what is required by all to achieve that potential.
At the end of the session a comment from a producer participating "The message that I am getting from you ALL is that I am not providing you with the right product". He was absolutely correct in this statement - that is only the first, but most critical, step. Without the farmer producing the correct product, everything else we do is in vain. However, the processor then has to process and package correctly and then the transporters deliver that product in the correct state to the marketers and/or end user. This applies to all aspects of the industry be it Live Birds, Meat, Hides, Oil or Feathers.
The Strategic Planning Process is a structured "brain storming" exercise. In this case to "Establish a mature ostrich industry through the development of a growing market for ostrich products world wide". It was led by Prof. Luc D' Haese (Prof. of Economics - University of Gen, Belgium) and assisted by Prof. Johan van Rooyen (Universtity of Pretoria and the SA Agriculture Business Chamber) and Mr. Dirk Esterhuizen (SA Agricultural Business Chamber).
The strategic planning process is split into 4 sections:
1. An environmental analysis (SWOT - Methodology)
2. Logistical Framework Analysis (Identification of the Problems and Objective Statements)
3. Strategy Analysis
4. Action Plans
All delegates were invited to write at least one powerful statement of what we believed to represent the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of the industry. The statements identified are obviously too many to report in detail, but included such items as:
Strengths = Healthy Products, Quality Products, Product Range
Weaknesses = Inconsistencies, Poor Health of Livestock, Distrust
Opportunities = Large Market Potential, Growth Potential, Niche Markets
Threats = Animal Rights, Poor Quality Products, Low Efficiency
Each thought presented was analysed in detail to establish the route problems and the cause and effect of each problem. At all times all aspects of the industry were being considered - Bird Sales, Meat Sales, Leather Sales, Oil Sales etc. - not just one single sector. For me personally I could identify with a number of the problems in my effort to get the BM technology available to those outside the US wishing to benefit from it.
It became clear that the problems at this stage could all be attributed to "Industry Immaturity" which has resulted in "Undeveloped Markets". This could be clearly defined in 4 Sectors:
1. Product Inconsistency - Production and Processing
2. Logistical Distribution - Transport and Distribution
3. Confusing Messages to Consumer - Lack of Standards and An Uneducated Market at all levels of the production chain.
4. Weak Institutional Environment - At Governmental level and National and International Association Level.
How were these conclusions reached? It can be clearly seen how all these relate to the immaturity of the industry.
PRODUCT INCONSISTENCY - Production at Producer Level
Low skill levels, inappropriate production systems and a general lack of nutritional technology were identified at producer level. These all contribute to the poor quality bird, demonstrating the poor health status seen on slaughter lines that contribute to the low production levels, inefficiencies and poor product quality that lead to a lack of viability.
- Inexperienced nutritional technology leading to very low production levels - impacting on the viability, product quality and consistency
- Poor transportation of birds leading to hide damage
PRODUCT INCONSISTENCY - Production at Processing Level
Low skill levels, inappropriate production systems and a general lack of processing (meat, hide etc) technology were also identified at production level.
- The method of hide removal, treatment and storage as a result of inexperience have led to many hides being worthless
- Poor slaughter techniques, lack of maintenance of the cold chain, poor hygiene practices - have led to short shelf life.
LOGISTICAL DISTRIBUTION PROBLEMS
Whether it is getting slaughter birds to the abattoir, breeder birds to a different continent, green hides to the tannery, frozen meat by sea, fresh meat by sea or air - all have logistical problems. These have to be learnt and errors will and have been made, from which lessons have been learned. Whether it be a producer error or shipper error - the result impacts on the quality of the product and/or credibility of
the supplier. There is always the risk that a major problem may occur that can have an impact on the industry.
- A shipment of birds from the UK to New Zealand resulted in deaths in the birds. This created bad publicity at the time - but lessons were learned to ensure such a tragedy would not be repeated
- Airlines may not always take sufficient care over the maintenance of the cold chain - if this is not identified it can impact on the shelf life of the meat.
CONFUSING MESSAGES TO END USER
General lack of product knowledge from producer level right through the chain - as a result of being a new industry, the market is confused with different information.
- Dark and Light coloured muscles being accepted as normal and/or age or genetic related. It is proven to be nutrition related.
- Genetic influences on hides have been taken as caused by age at slaughter
- Steak Cuts being sold as Filet quality
WEAK INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT
As a new farmed species in most areas there have been no regulations in place. These have had to be developed and this takes time as there was no information available to draw upon. The lack of such directives has led, in some cases, to short cuts being taken by some traders in order to survive.
- No protocols in place for importation of Birds, Meat or Hides. Each country has had to define their requirements imposing delays and other problems when importation first requested
- Health Certificates had to be drawn up with few or no references available - creating delays.
- Ignorance leads to unnecessary and confusing legislation such as the Dangerous Wild Animal Act imposed on UK producers and interpreted differently by each region - increasing producer costs.
- Repackaging and Cross Boarder smuggling has resulted in severe meat quality problems - this would be eliminated if all boarders open
Association and Industry Level
The lack of standards combined with the lack of use or misinterpretation of those standards that were in place was identified as a contributing factor to the inconsistencies that have been experienced. A lack of integrity and distrust between players were also identified as real problems.
- Different muscle names used for the same muscles by different countries. With much of the meat traded internationally, this has caused considerable confusion as the International Numbers assigned to each muscle have not been used.
- Inconsistent interpretations of Hide Gradings
- No available guide lines to enable new buyers to recognise a "quality" breeder bird - buyer totally dependent on the Salesperson for guidance
- Many producers remain unpaid in a number of regions in the world
From The Problem Analysis it was possible to define some clear Objectives to Develop the Market for Ostrich Products:
1. To positively influence the International Institutional Environment.
2. To transmit clear messages about the Industry and its products to the end User.
3. To promote an improved logistical system, including transportation and communication networks.
4. To deliver a consistent product to the market.
These were developed into 4 clearly defined projects:
1. To Establish a set of Product Standards and Codes of Conduct.
2. To Establish Communication.
3. To Develop IOA Policy Statements.
4. To Develop a Strategy for Promotion of the Ostrich Industry.
These projects will be developed through the activities of the following Strategies:
Strategy 1 - Standardisation in the Industry
Strategy 2 - IOA Lobbying
Strategy 3 - Informing the End User
Strategy 4 - Improved Logistic Systems for the Ostrich Industry
Strategy 5 - Product Consistency in the Ostrich Industry
Strategy 6 - Promotion of the IOA as an important industry role player
The implementation will start with the IOA secretariat developing an Action Plan and Budget to be completed within 2 months.
The Action Plan was never developed or implemented.