September 10, 2003



Indian Meat Exports Seen Up 12% in 2004 to 520,000 MT


Despite moderate growth in 2004 cattle population, exports of meat are forecast to grow by 12 percent to 520,000 tons to cater to the increasing demand from the traditional and emerging markets. Domestic beef consumption is forecast to increase to 1.55 million tons during 2004 and will remain second to poultry meat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agriculture Service's agricultural attache, dated Aug. 25, but released Tuesday.


 On improved fodder availability and higher prices for buffalo meat, India's cattle population in 2004 is forecast at 374 million, up 1.4 percent from the previous year. Buffaloes account for roughly 49 percent of the total cattle population. The buffalo population has registered a higher growth in recent years due to better economic returns to farmers from its high-fat milk and increasing export demand for buffalo meat. Although cow slaughter is generally banned in India due to religious sensitivities, there are no restrictions on the slaughter of buffaloes in most states. The government is presently contemplating a law enforcing a comprehensive nation- wide ban on cow slaughtering.


Commercial feed consumption is currently estimated at 10 million tons, constituting about 10 percent of the total feed consumption. Growing awareness about high quality feed and an expanding dairy and meat sector is expected to lead to a significant increase in the demand for commercial feed. Nonetheless, localized small feed formulators will continue to dominate the Indian feed sector in the near-term.


Per capita beef consumption is estimated at 1.4 kg compared with 740 grams of sheep/lamb meat and 1.5 kg of poultry meat. Increased awareness about the health implications of red meat coupled with better affordability of poultry meat due to rising incomes has favored poultry meat consumption, especially among urban consumers. The current retail price of beef averages $1.30 per kg compared to $ 2.7 per kg for sheep/lamb meat, and $ 1.76 per kg for poultry meat.


Livestock slaughtering is typically a small-scale operation catering to mostly the fresh meat consumers in the rural and semi-urban areas. There are a few large-scale, modern slaughterhouses, mostly to cater to the export market. Market for chilled or frozen meat is absent in India due to a lack of cold chain facilities and an aversion to frozen meat.


In 2004 carabeef exports are forecast to increase to 520,000 tons due to increased demand from both the traditional and emerging markets. Exports in 2003 are estimated to increase by 11 percent from the CY 2002 level to 465,000 tons (CWE) due to increased purchases by CIS and African countries. Exports to the UAE are estimated to increase during 2003 following increased re-exports to Iraq. The former CIS countries, which have been earlier importing beef from the EU, have recently begun sourcing from India due to the BSE concerns and competitive Indian pricing. Beef exports to West African countries are increasing due to promotional efforts by Indian exporters.


According to trade sources, 90 percent of Indian beef exports is as boneless and the balance as carcasses. Major markets for Indian specialty beef cuts are Malaysia, Philippines, Egypt, and Jordan, with smaller exports to the Middle East and African countries. The Philippines and Malaysia account for a major share of the fresh/chilled category, and the Middle East and Malaysia also import frozen meat. Most of the beef exported to the South East Asian countries is to cater to the institutional demand for processed beef products such as sausages, salami, etc., due to the better water holding capacity of carabeef and its better blending properties.


Source: USDA