India, one of the largest exporters of beef, is unlikely to pose a challenge to the export of American beef due to the poor quality of its buffalo meat and lack of animal health regulations, an official report has said.
“So far, it appears that Indian water buffalo meat exports, although relatively low cost, are mostly non- competitive with US beef exports, primarily due to quality preferences and animal health regulations in the major markets that import US beef,” the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a report on Indian beef exports.
The report ‘From Where the Buffalo Roam: India’s Beef Exports’, said that Indian exports of buffalo meat do not comply with health standards, including foot and mouth disease-free status, required by most high-income markets served by the US.
Even in markets shared by the two countries, the products are likely to serve different customer segments, it said, adding that about 90 per cent of US beef exports go to markets closed to Indian beef.
“However, India’s water buffalo meat exports are competing effectively in developing-country markets with a demand profile that favours India’s relatively low-cost product, and where import demand is substantially out pacing that in traditional US markets,” the report said.
Although US beef suppliers may be able to compete for “high-end” consumer segments in India’s developing-country.
The USDA said the rapid growth in India’s exports of water buffalo meat is predicated by three factors.
First by rising demand for relatively low-cost meat by consumers in low- and middle-income developing-country markets.
Second by India’s large water buffalo herd, which has been mostly untapped for meat production, and finally the emergence of private sector, export-oriented processors that have been effective in meeting the requirements of their developing-country markets.
Growth in demand for water buffalo meat in India’s export markets, largely in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, has been strong relative to that in developed-country markets and is expected to remain so over the next decade, it said. In addition, India may benefit from the opening of important new markets, particularly Russia and China, USDA said.
According to the report, despite India’s large and underutilised buffalo herd, there appear to be concerns about the sustainability of recent growth in meat exports from a supply perspective. USDA projected a decline in the female buffalo herd by the end of 2015-25 projection period, creating the potential for a trade off between milk and meat production.
The analysis indicates that export growth might be sustained if producers begin to respond to rising export demand by retaining and rearing male calves and/or feeding animals to higher weights, but there is not yet any evidence that this is happening, it observed.