Meat consumption

Beef bogeyman

Print edition : July 07, 2017
India’s meat consumption is dominated by poultry and mutton, with beef a distant third. However, beef exports continue to grow, raising questions about the Centre’s true intent in restricting cattle slaughter.

INDIA's meat consumption is dominated by poultry and mutton by a wide margin, with beef coming a distant third, according to data from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation for 2015-16. At the same time, the country was the world’s top beef exporter (technically carabeef, or meat of the water buffalo) in the first 11 months of 2016, shipping 1.22 million tonnes, according to Beef Magazine, a United States-based industry publication. In this context, the Centre’s move to restrict the sale of cattle for slaughter at village markets but leave exports untouched raises questions about the true intent behind the new rules.

The value added by meat to the livestock sector in 2015-16 was Rs.1,50,598 crore, with poultry accounting for 46.4 per cent (Rs.69,888 crore), followed by mutton at 34.8 per cent (Rs.52,345 crore) and then beef at 15.4 per cent (Rs.23,232 crore). Pork had the lowest share of the major meat categories, of 3.4 per cent (Rs.5,133 crore).

The biggest contributor to the livestock sector was the milk group, accounting for a lion’s share of Rs.5,50,171 crore, while the meat group was a distant second at Rs.1,63,195 crore.

According to a June 2016 report by the United States Department of Agriculture, the emergence of private, export-oriented processors in India to meet the requirements of developing markets played a key role in helping the country emerge as a significant player in the global beef trade. The report also projects that India’s exports will continue to post strong growth in the coming years. The Centre’s latest rules will only serve to strengthen the hands of exporters while upsetting the balance in rural economies already reeling under agricultural duress.

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