Agri Business

Buffalo meat could help India stay No.1 in beef export this year too

M. R. Subramani Chennai | Updated on March 12, 2018

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Shipments may rise to 1.7 million tonnes

India will continue to be the leading beef exporter this year despite slower growth in cattle, calf production and higher domestic consumption.

In the Indian context, beef export is shipment of buffalo meat which is also known as carabeef in the global market. Shipment of cow meat from the country is banned.

Last year, India overtook Brazil as the top exporter of beef, mainly due to growing acceptance of its buffalo meat by South-East Asia, West Asia and African countries.

Buffalo meat exports this year from India could rise to 1.7 million tonnes (mt) against 1.41 mt last year.

Initially, the USDA has estimated that beef exports this year could top 2.1 mt.

“Our buffalo meat exports are giving a tough competition to other countries due to our competitive pricing and quality,” said Tarun Bajaj, General Manager (Livestock products), Agricultural and Processed Foods Export Development Authority (Apeda).

Buffalo makes up one-third of the bovine population in the country.

It is preferred to cow due to its adaptability to climatic conditions and high milk fat content as dairy production is fuelling the bovine sector.

Since slaughter of cow is banned, beef production is driven by buffalo slaughter which is allowed.

However, the slaughter is restricted to males and unproductive females.

According to Apeda, exports of meat and its products increased to $3.29 billion in 2012-13 against $2.91 billion the previous year.

Since 2008, when India exported 672,000 tonnes, shipments of buffalo meat have almost trebled.

Brazil’s exports

Indian exports have made inroads into West Asia, North Africa and South-East Asia, a key market for Brazil, as buffalo meat is cheaper in these price-sensitive markets.

It is produced according to halal standards (meat prepared as prescribed by Islamic law).

Brazil has been witnessing a constant decline in beef exports due to shrinking land availability, but this year its shipments are expected to rise to 1.6 mt from 1.52 mt last year.

Currently, there is renewed interest in livestock farming as the Brazil Government is providing support for pasture management and genetic improvement of cattle.

“The other reason for our exports rising is our quality. Some of our exporters have excellent processing units. This is really helping,” said Bajaj.

Domestic market

On the other hand, domestic consumption is also likely to increase this year. It could increase to 2.1 mt from 2.04 mt last year. Since 2008, domestic consumption has not gained as much as exports.

This is because people are shifting to lamb and other meats in view of increasing income in the country. Poultry meat, in particular, has increased sharply in the last few years.

According to the USDA, cattle heads could increase by four million tonnes to 327 mt, while nearly 64.3 mt calf could be produced this year against 63.4 mt last year.

The USDA also projected a lower export of 8.6 mt this year.

Published on June 12, 2013

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