With several colleges across Kerala stirring up beef festivals to protest against the lynching of an alleged beef-eater in Dadri (UP), the meat has become pricier in the state.
Despite the higher demand in recent days, restaurants have been thinking twice about retaining beef curry in the daily menu.
At least three colleges — Kerala Varma College in Trissur, SN College in Trissur and CMS college in Kottayam — are in the whirl of conducting beef festivals and drawing the ire of right-wing managements this week .
The reason why hotels are not in a hurry to seize the current demand for beef curry is hardly anything to do directly with Dadri lynching. The price of beef in Kerala has spiralled up from R250 per kg in 2014 to R320 per kg in 2015. Although Kerala is the state with country’s highest per capita meat consumption and beef accounts for almost 50% of the state’s meat needs, consumers have been resistant to corresponding increase in the price of beef dishes in restaurants.
Due to protests in Tamil Nadu against the slaughter of cows, slaughter houses across Kerala have been facing acute shortage of animals. The state has 154 slaughter houses. As many as 44 cattle markets in Kerala were getting truckloads of animals from the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, before the right-wing protests outside Kerala borders started attacking the trucks carrying the animals.
According to KH Kamaludin, who heads Kerala Cattle and Meat Merchants Welfare Association, the losses, during these kinds of protests, made the trade unviable. “Each consignment costs R5.5 lakh. We lost 14 consignments, during a confrontation with protesters three months ago,” he said.
According to the new regulation, a truck cannot carry more than 10 cattle. This norm has stepped up the transportation costs, which swiftly translated to the new price of beef.
“The ‘protest’ beef fests do not mean that the business of beef curry take-aways from restaurant benefit,” says Vijayan Nair, who runs a catering service. “The protesters buy beef and cook in an open pot at public place. These do not pep up our daily business.”
While restaurants are worried about the beef menu going too expensive for their usual target audience, the domestic consumer does not seem to be much affected. In Connemora market in Kerala capital, the beef stocks are nearly sold out by 8 am everyday in all three of its main meat stalls. In fact, according to the statistics by State Animal Husbandry department, the state buys 2,500 metric tonne beef every year. In 2014-2015, Kerala consumed 4,450 metric tonne of meat. The second place is to chicken, which sold 1,640 metric tonne per year. While 1,800 metric tonne of mutton was sold, only 1,500 metric tonne of pork was consumed.