Buffalo meat exports from India have expanded significantly in recent years, with India forecast to surpass Australia and become the largest bovine exporter in the world by 2013 - according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Global Agriculture Information Network (USDA GAIN).
Indian bovine exports totalled 1.29 million tonnes cwt in 2011, with 2012 shipments estimated to reach 1.66 million tonnes cwt, before growing to 2.15 million tonnes cwt in 2013. Interestingly, the largest market for Indian shipments in 2011 was Vietnam, followed by Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
According to the USDA GAIN report, the Indian bovine herd (combined cattle and buffalo) in 2012 is estimated at 323.74 million head. The recent increase in the herd has been reportedly due to a run of poor crops, along with an increased demand for dairy products resulting in more farmers converting to buffalo dairy enterprises. The Indian bovine herd is predicted to expand a further 1% in 2013, to 327 million head.
While Indian laws prohibit cattle slaughter due to religious reasons, buffalo slaughter is allowed and largely restricted to bulls and unproductive heifers. For 2012, Indian buffalo slaughter is estimated to reach 36.8 million head, with meat production totalling 3.64 million tonnes cwt, with a further 14% expansion in 2013, to 4.16 million tonnes cwt.
India’s per capita buffalo meat consumption is around two kilograms per year, and given the dominance of vegetarianism, very little domestic growth in consumption is anticipated in coming years. Thus, almost all of the growth in production will consumed in export markets, which will be underpinned by the construction of 12 new export oriented slaughter and processing plants, which will add to the existing 58 establishments.
The growing demand for Indian product is mostly underpinned by competitively priced, Halal certified product that is accepted in most emerging markets, predominately across the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia. Despite this, India’s Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) status continues to pose market access issues to some potential destinations.
While lower in quality, Indian buffalo meat is expected to remain one of the major competitors to Australian manufacturing beef in the global markets, underpinned by its natural leanness and low price.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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