India’s buffalo meat (carabeef) exports to Southeast Asia are growing fast, thanks to rising demand in China, even though the world’s second-biggest economy has not officially opened its doors to India in this sector.
According to data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, overall exports to Vietnam between last April and October rose by almost 200% in value terms and doubled in terms of quantity compared to 2012.
Up the Mekong
At the same time, carabeef exports rose overall by 46% in value terms to US$2,361m, and 23% in quantity. Overall exports are expected to cross US$4bn over the coming year, compared to US$3.19bn just a year ago.
Vietnam accounts for 40% of India’s carabeef exports, although this is not from direct demand¾China is the world’s biggest consumer of buffalo offal, leading traders in Vietnam to re-export their supplies of Indian carabeef to their neighbour.
China has given an in-principle approval to direct carabeef imports from India this year, but it is yet to formalise the decision. According to Arjun Chavan, a Mumbai-based halal meat and frozen foods exporter, this has not yet stopped traders from tapping this fast-growing opportunity.
Higher incomes, richer diets
Chavan told FoodNavigator-Asia that prices for offal have almost doubled to US$1,200 per tonne over the last three months. “Chinese demand is rising fast, which is being further buoyed by the upcoming Chinese New Year festival,” he said.
He added that countries like India, Australia and New Zealand have been upping beef production to meet this growing demand, which is not likely to slow down for the full year at the very least.
Joe Schuele, spokesman for the US Meat Export Federation, said recently that demand for beef has exploded in mainland China over the past 18 months, fuelled by higher incomes, diet expansion and robust growth in restaurants.
“It hadn’t been that big of a deal until the last 18 months or so, when beef demand began to really skyrocket in mainland China. Their imports are up 500% over last year. In one month they are doing the volume of the entire year in 2011,” Schuele said.