Where Indian buffalo meat exports go

Vietnam is by far the largest importer, data show; it is likely, however, that the bulk of the over 6 lakh tonnes of carabeef shipped to Vietnam finds its way unofficially to China

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: April 12, 2017 8:17 am
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Brazil and India have been vying for the top spot in world beef exports over the past several years. In 2014, India dislodged Brazil from the number 1 slot, according to United States Department of Agriculture data. The latest data from 2016 show India and Brazil tied on top — with both countries accounting for just under 20% each of the world’s total beef exports. They, along with Australia and New Zealand, are the world’s largest beef exporting countries, as per the US data.

An important clarification here is that India does not officially export the meat of cows. The so-called “beef” that it exports is buffalo meat, which is also known as “carabeef”. The United States “beef” data includes carabeef. The bulk of India’s buffalo meat exports are to Asian countries — 11 of the top 15 destinations for buffalo meat by value in 2015-16 were in Asia and 3 in Africa (Algeria, Egypt, and Angola). Russia was the 15th destination — at No. 15 in the list of the top 15.

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The biggest market for Indian buffalo meat, at Rs 13,125 crore, was Vietnam in 2015-16. Malaysia (Rs 2,683 cr) was a distant second, followed by Egypt (Rs 2,326 cr), Saudi Arabia (Rs 1,416 cr) and Iraq (Rs 767 cr). However, Vietnam by itself does not have the capacity to absorb this value (just under half the total) and quantity (over 6 lakh tonnes, or 46% of the total) of buffalo meat exports — and the bulk of the consignments to that country are said to make their way eventually to China. China technically does not import any buffalo meat from India. However, a grey market has developed in recent times, with Chinese traders reportedly using Vietnam’s Haiphong port to bring in Indian buffalo meat loaded on small vessels.

The buffalo meat exported by India is mostly raw, de-boned chunks, used primarily in the processed and canned food industry. Very little makes its way to kitchens for direct consumption by individuals. This is because carabeef is tougher, and is hence considered inferior to cow meat; for this reason, it also fetches a discount to regular beef in the world market. Thus, the average free-on-board price of buffalo meat exported from India in 2014-15 was $ 3,240 (about Rs 2.1 lakh) per tonne, whereas the corresponding unit value for chilled and frozen beef cuts from Brazil was $ 4,515 (more than Rs 2.9 lakh).

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Lower prices, along with the proximity to key consuming markets in Southeast Asia and West Asia, has imparted a huge competitive edge to Indian buffalo meat exports in recent years.

Thus, between 2009 and 2014, India’s beef exports more than trebled from around 0.6 million tonnes to over 2 million tonnes in carcass weight equivalent terms. In value terms, shipments more than quadrupled from $ 1,163.54 million in 2009-10 (April-March) to $ 4,781.18 million in 2014-15. In the process, beef also become India’s No. 1 agri-export item, ahead of basmati rice ($ 4,518.25 million).

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  1. D
    Dabojit Das
    Jul 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm
    i want to export caw meet from india so i want more detials about it.
    1. R
      Apr 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm
      Government should ban beef export with immediate effect. It is a fundamental right of Buffaloes to live peacefully too. Stop beef export and make adequate control measures to stop it. Buffaloes lives matter too. If the government is really committed to Cattle protection. STOP BEEF EXPORT
      1. S
        Sreesheel Sreekumar
        Apr 13, 2017 at 5:31 pm
        Certain organization and state governments are against the slaughter of both cows and buffaloes ! The government and these organizations should run huge dairy farms ! The products can be milk, curd, ghee, l i, ice cream, sweets made of milk, cow dung (manure), cow (ayurvedic medicines), hide of dead animals (if it is okay), etc. A part of revenue generated from this initiative should be used to take care of old cows and buffaloes ! Technology should be developed wherein the of the newborn can be decided, thus producing more female cows and buffaloes ! These dairy farms should also manufacture their own cow / buffalo feed !
        1. J
          Apr 13, 2017 at 3:42 pm
          This is sheer case of discrimination on the colour of skin amongst bovines (cows and buffalos). Both cow and buffalo give us same products but buffalo is not a mother unlike cow... just because she is black??? Buffalos must protests instead of killer buffoons
          1. Sandeep Bhasin
            Apr 13, 2017 at 5:04 pm
            Hope people understand your sarcasm :-)
            1. Chaudhary Tau
              Apr 15, 2017 at 11:40 pm
              Does Sonia command same respect as Maya? It does matter whether its Black or White, remember Michael Jai Kishan?
            2. L
              Apr 13, 2017 at 2:59 pm
              Ok so what is the difference between a buffalo and a cow ... anatomically speaking? Both are domesticated, both provide milk yet cow is revered and buffalo is slaughtered. Another Indian hypocrisy.
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