Kenya’s Potential in the Production and Export of Rabbit Meat

ImageRabbits are reared in the Mediterranean countries of Northern Africa while in the sub-Saharan Africa, the two main producers are Nigeria and Ghana and to a lesser extent the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire and Benin.

Advantages of rabbit meat production and consumption
There are several advantages in the production and consumption of rabbit meat;

  • Rabbits multiply at a very rapid pace. The gestation period is only 31 days, and a healthy female is able to produce three or four litters averaging six to eight offspring every year. Starting with a buck and a doe, a backyard breeder can obtain a quantity of meat over the course of a year equal to the weight of an entire cow. One rabbit is just the right size to feed an average family, and the supply of meat is continuous.
  • Cholesterol level in rabbit meat is much lower than chicken, turkey, beef, pork. 
  • Rabbit is highest in protein percentage and that domestic rabbit meat is the most nutritious meat known to man.Image
  • Rabbit meat has been used and is suitable for special diets, such as those for heart disease patients, diets for the aged, low sodium diets, weight reduction diets, etc.
    Rabbits will produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water as a cow will produce 1 pound of meat on the same feed and water.
  • Rabbits are raised in captivity and up off the ground and thereby producing one of the least contaminated meats.
  • As the worlds human population grows there will be less land to grow crops therefore the rabbit will play a more prominent role in food supply.
  • Rabbit meat is all white meat.

Rabbit fur is also used in the production of felts, hats and belts.


Global trade in rabbit meat
The values in the global trade of rabbit meat are summarized in the tables below;
Global Exports
Table 1: GLOBAL EXPORTERS OF RABBIT MEAT - 2009 (Values in US$ Millions) Product : 020810 Rabbit edible meat offal, fresh, chilled or frozen

ExportersTrade Indicators
Value exported in 2009 (US$ Millions)Quantity exported in 2009Quantity UnitUnit value (USD/unit)Share in world exports (%)
Argentina 15.402,523Tons6,1057.7
Spain 12.112,529Tons4,7906
Netherlands 7.841,355Tons5,7833.9
Germany 4.46548Tons8,1352.2
Czech Republic 3.71722Tons5,1331.9
United Kingdom 2.00381Tons5,2601
All Other5.451,501Tons 2.8
World 200.2939,213Tons5,108100

As can be seen in Table 1 above the global export of rabbit meat was valued at US$ 200.29 million in 2009 and  is currently dominated by five   countries namely China (20.7%), France (16.9%), Belgium (14.1%), Hungary (13.6%) and Italy (9.2%) cumulatively accounting for 74.5% of global exports of rabbit meat.

Global Imports
Table 2: Global importers of rabbit meat in 2009 (Product : 020810 Rabbit or hare meat and edible meat offal, fresh, chilled or frozen)

Importing CountriesTrade IndicatorsAverage tariff (estimated) applied by the country (%)
Value imported in 2009 (USD millions)Quantity imported in 2009Quantity UnitUnit value (USD/unit)Share in world imports (%)
Germany 32.155,273Tons6,09817.91.1
Belgium 29.695,549Tons5,35016.61.1
Italy 21.204,488Tons4,72311.81.1
France 17.413,553Tons4,8999.71.1
Russian Federation 13.574,628Tons2,9337.619.3
Netherlands 12.741,978Tons6,4397.11.1
Switzerland 11.771,879Tons6,2636.62
Portugal 10.711,893Tons5,65661.1
Greece 6.031,088Tons5,5413.41.1
Spain 5.651,299Tons4,3463.11.1
United States of America 3.27740Tons4,4151.84
All Other15.212,983  8.40 
GLOBAL IMPORTS179.3935,351Tons5,074100 

Global Importers of Rabbit Furskin
An important by – product of the trade in rabbit meat is the trade in rabbit furskin which is traded in the global market for the manufacture of felts, hats and belts. This trading in this product has not been developed in Kenya due the small size of the rabbit meat industry and it’s by products in Kenya.

Table 3 below gives a summary of the major global importers of rabbit furskin in 2009.

Table 3: GLOBAL Import of Rabbit Furskins - 2009 (Product : 430219 Tanned or dressed furskins nes, whole, not assembled)

Importing CountriesTrade IndicatorsAverage tariff (estimated) applied by the country (%)
Value imported in 2009 (USD millions)Quantity imported in 2009Quantity UnitUnit value (USD/unit)Share in world imports (%)
Hong Kong, China 101.372,232Tons45,41720.10
China 82.328,211Tons10,02516.421.3
Germany 39.431,431Tons27,5567.80.1
Italy 34.33545Tons62,9836.80.1
Turkey 32.98784Tons42,0656.60.1
Russian Federation 20.251,639Tons12,356414.1
France 15.93341Tons46,7213.20.1
United States of America 15.71 No quantity 3.11.2
Sweden 13.55500Tons27,0902.70.1
United Kingdom 12.42395Tons31,4382.50.1
Greece 12.34100Tons123,4202.50.1
All Other122.66   24.3 
GLOBAL IMPORTS503.2820No quantity 100 

Kenya’s Trade In Rabbit Meat

The commercial rearing of rabbits is a relatively new industry in Kenya but various institutions are working hard to develop the Sector.
Kenya’s exports of rabbit meat


DestinationYearCommodityQuantity KgsValue in Kshs.
SUDAN2007Rabbit or Hare meat, fresh, chilled or frozen25161,644
2008Rabbit or Hare meat, fresh, chilled or frozen1,722494,485
Source for all statistics: ITC calculations based on COMTRADE statistics.

As indicated in Table 4 above, Kenya has only recorded exports of rabbit meat to Sudan over the period 2000 – 2010 with highest export value being Kshs 0.49 million in 2008. This implies that the commercial rearing of rabbit may be confined to the local market and the development of the export of this commodity may be in the infant stages and may develop over time with the necessary interest and acceptable returns on investment in the industry.


  • On a national scale the consumption of rabbit meat should be promoted as a healthy way of living as a way of avoiding the lifestyle diseases associated with red meat (e.g. Gout, High Cholesterol, Heart disease etc.)
  • Establishment of a Rabbit Breeders Association in line with the Associations established in Ghana which led to the successful establishment of a rabbit meat industry in the country.
  • A market study to establish the number and current production capacity of rabbit breeders in the country.
  • Development of a database of rabbit breeders in the country
  • In depth study on the potential markets of rabbit meat globally including breeds in demand and market entry tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
  • In depth study on the potential markets of rabbit by products (e.g, fur) globally including breeds availability and demand.
  • Commercial Attachés accredited to various identified markets to do an in market survey on the market detailing contacts, import prices and consumption patterns in the various markets.

Read more about rabbits

chss business translation business financeaccounting managementscience economics ids idis awsc arts african-studies arabic confucius french geography history kiswahili languageskills linguistics literature philosophy politicalscience journalism psychology sociology koreanstudies dlis acfrn law-school commerciallaw privatelaw publiclaw psri caselap kisumu mombasa