Meatco producers issue list of demands

Calls for prompt settlement of outstanding payments
Producers say Meatco's delayed payments are causing severe cash flow problems, preventing them from paying their workers, suppliers and other expenses.
Elvira Hattingh
Following an urgent meeting last Thursday with the company's management and directors, Meatco producers submitted a written document outlining their demands.

The document includes the requirement for the company to not only settle all outstanding payments but also provide assurances that future payments will be made on time. In cases where assurances cannot be provided, producers demand a 50% upfront payment when cattle are slaughtered.

This follows a meeting between several producers, led by André Esterhuizen, who accuse Meatco of engaging in reckless business practices, leading to significant losses and cash flow problems.

During the meeting, producers also demanded that prices for November to January be adjusted as formally agreed upon in July, that all outstanding payments be settled, and that producers receive a reliable price structure for at least six months in advance.

Producers argue that Meatco's delayed payments are causing severe cash flow problems, preventing them from paying their workers, suppliers and other expenses.

The decline in auction prices is attributed to producers choosing to sell their cattle there due to these financial challenges. Producers emphasise that Meatco could slaughter over 100 000 animals per year if they were paid on time according to agreed-upon prices.

Problems outlined

During the meeting, producers stated that inefficiencies in Meatco's marketing, logistics and compliance departments prevent it from functioning optimally at full capacity.

"While the exchange rate is currently more favourable than in previous years, the Norwegian quota could not be utilised."

The producers said after Meatco took over the distribution of its stock this year, containers were exported with incomplete documentation.

"Meatco's staff lacks the necessary capacity and understanding of what to do after taking over all distribution responsibilities from GPS.

"This means that stock cannot be sold while paperwork is not in order. Shipments are delayed at ports for extended periods and eventually sold at lower prices because they are close to the expiration date. Consequently, Meatco is experiencing significant cash flow problems. The realisation of markets has become a serious issue for Meatco, with no steps being taken to rectify it," the producers said.

Producers further argue that while defaults are a recurring issue, Meatco can only pay producers with the assistance of government, facilitated by the Development Bank of Namibia (BON), acting as a lifesaver.

"Losses are thus financed with debt," they believe.

Additionally, they are concerned that no action is being taken to make Meatco self-sufficient.

"Meatco continues to rely on the government to carry on with its daily affairs," they say.

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Namibian Sun 2023-12-02

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