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Buffalo Meat To Become Top Agri Export

By Expert Author: Almeat

India emerged as a top exporter of buffalo meat in 2012-13, with 50 per cent market share and it is growing. The commodity has been in the top three exports items in the agri commodity basket. This year, it could be a tough competition to basmati rice in becoming the top exporting agri item.

The export, growing at 15 per cent per annum in the last decade, was $3.2 billion in 2012-13, while in April-May this year it stood at $578 million, according to data compiled by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority ( Apeda )

India’s export potential is growing further as Brazil, another major meat supplier to the world, is facing issues in exporting, while China’s demand is rising. India and China have signed a memorandum of understanding to export buffalo meat directly to China, which otherwise was routed through Vietnam.

Allana Sons is a 146-year-old export house, with the fifth generation running the business at present. The group is not only the number one buffalo meat export but also the number one coffee exporter. Its total export in 2012-13 was $225 billion with half the revenue from buffalo meat. (IN THE BIG LEAGUE)

Al Kabeer, another exporter, sold meat worth Rs 650 crore abroad in 2012-13. Gulamuddin Shaikh, who founded Al Kabeer in 1970 to export buffalo meat, was considered among the first to think of exporting the meat in the frozen, brick form. He first exported meat in 1968.

“China stopped buying beef from Brazil due to a non-classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) case. Only eight plants were authorised to export to China out of a total 200 federally inspected plants in Brazil,” according to Rabo Bank.

With a fall in Brazil’s exports, India is penetrating its market. India exported 1.1 million tonnes in 2012-13. the export realisation in terms of price was an average $2,900 per tonne in 2012-13 and has been quoted now at $3,200 per tonne. Expectations are that in the coming months, it will cross $3,500 per tonne, with the fall in Brazil’s exports and China’s growing demand.

“I believe exports will be higher by 20 per cent this year in tonnage and prices could cross $3,500 per tonne,” says Aspi Dinshaw, chief general manager of Al Kabeer. In value terms, total exports could be $3.6 to $4 billion, which will be higher even then basmati rice.

While Vietnam has been the single largest buyer of Indian meat with 30 per cent share, Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines are next in line, each having 7-11 per cent share. The list of importers is as big as 85 countries. Exports to Vietnam is mostly to meet Chinese demand.

Dinshaw adds: “Efforts are now being made to increase direct exports to China.”

The meat exporting industry, which is utilising only unproductive buffalo livestock, has set up modern integrated abattoirs with quality control labs. Modern abattoirs, apart from processing meat, also make better use of the hide and skins of buffaloes, on which the leather industry, another export commodity, thrives. Apart from skins, supplied to tanneries, rendered products are supplied to poultries as feed.

According to the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association (Aimlea), there are 42 abattoirs-cum-meat processing plants in India and 32 meat processing plants are registered with the export regulatory authority Apeda, employing 74,000 directly and 150,000 indirectly.

“India has 50 per cent of the world’s buffalo population, which, as per the latest census of 2007, stood at 105.3 million. This is at a time when India has emerged as largest milk producing country in the world,” says Rashid Kadimi, president of Aimlea.

“Milk production increased because of an increase in productive milch buffaloes and decrease in unproductive culled buffalos, as buffaloes removed from the system improves efficiencies of the system,” he adds. Management of cattle fodder, etc is possible only due to that.

Most of the buffaloes and meat are procured from places like Hyderabad, Aligarh, Aurangabad, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Most large exporters have established water treatment and rendering plants. Kadimi says: “Because of exports, a trend is emerging within to ensure quality in meat processing. When animals are properly handled and dressed, good quality of raw hides and skins are made available to tanneries. Even with good quality production of leather and other by products like poultry feed is better and hence exporters have been able to pay higher prices to farmers as well.”

Kadimi raises another crucial issue. “There is a need to stop illegal exports of livestock cattle from India which is far higher than meat exports.” He adds it is estimated that $5 billion worth of cattle is smuggled from India to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal and from there to other destinations.

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