How India Became the World's Biggest Beef Exporter

July 7, 2016 01:54 PM

In 2014, India emerged as the world’s largest beef exporter. A recent report from USDA suggests three factors have driven this trend.

1. There is a continued rising demand for lower-cost meat in developing countries.

2. India has a large water buffalo herd already in place that was historically used to milk production rather than meat production.

3. Private-sector export-oriented Indian processors have emerged with an effective strategy to deliver to developing countries.

The report’s authors note that Indian exports are not currently competitive with U.S. beef exports, however.

“[This is] primarily because they do not meet the quality preferences and animal health regulations required in the major markets that import U.S. beef,” they write. “About 90% of U.S. beef exports go to markets closed to Indian beef. If, however, growers or processors in India respond to the commercial opportunity now afforded by export demand by rearing more male calves and/or adopting pre-slaughter feeding to boost low slaughter weights, production and export growth could be sustained.”

Currently, the top five export markets for India are Vietnam, Malaysia, Egypt, Thailand and Saudi Arabia. This is in contrast to the U.S., which exports the majority of its beef to Japan, Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Since 2011, market share for U.S. beef exports have declined moderately, while Indian exports have risen sharply. Australian and New Zealand exports have remained relatively flat during this time, while Brazil exports trended upward from 2011-13 but has since cooled.

USDA predicts India beef exports will continue to rise an average 3.1% annually through 2025.

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