India buffalo meat exports on the rise

By Raghavendra Verman, in New Delhi

- Last updated on GMT

Indian exporters said they were expecting more sales
Indian exporters said they were expecting more sales

Related tags Milk India Beef

Indian buffalo meat exports have risen by 10% to US$4.78 billion in the financial year ending March 2015, according to provisional data released by India’s Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics on 8 May.

The results backed the findings of an April report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), entitled ‘Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade’, which concluded: "Larger [beef and veal] shipments from India… [have] more than offset declines by Brazil, Uruguay, and the USA."

An earlier international agriculture trade report, released by USDA last August (2014) had argued that Indian water buffalo meat (carabeef) is very competitively priced, stressing that the Indian government, despite the ruling BJP’s opposition to cow slaughter, supports its production and exports of buffalo meat. These exports "are increasingly destined for developing nations including least-developed nations",​ it said.

Despite the apparent good news, Indian exporters told GlobalMeatNews​ they were not satisfied and were expecting more sales: "I can’t give you the figures, but we expected to do much better,"​ said an official from All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association (AIMLEA).

According to the official, stiffer competition from Brazil, due to the decline in its currency the real, was the main reason for the underachievement. He claimed harassment of meat traders by Hindu nationalists was actually absent in many Indian states and was not damaging exports where it did happen: "It only affects domestic consumption,"​ he said.

Other factors boosting Indian buffalo meat exports include the popularity of Indian meat in Muslim countries, because of its halal production, said Priya Sud, a partner at buffalo meat exporting firm Al Noor Exports, in New Delhi.

Furthermore, Sud told GlobalMeatNews​: "Muslim practices are open to all red meat and it does not matter to them if it is cow or a buffalo meat."

Sud added that Indian meat exporters found international conferences, such as the Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL) in Paris and Dubai, particularly useful for generating new export business.

According to Sud, although Indian meat is of high quality, processors often get lower yields as only older animals tend to be slaughtered: "Farmers sell animals only when it is no longer economical to rear them for milk,"​ she said.

Furthermore, there are other challenges for Indian meat exporters, such as high refrigeration costs due to the hot climate and frequent seasonal disruptions in supply, noted Sud: "We do not get animals during peak summer and winter fog,"​ she said, "In the long run, India has to do animal rearing [primarily for meat]."

Despite current problems, the AIMLEA official was optimistic about future exports: "We see a bright future,"​ he said.

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