India retains its top spot as the world’s largest exporter of beef, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and has extended its lead over the next highest exporter, Brazil. It must be noted, however, that the U.S. government classifies even buffalo meat as beef.
According to the data, India exported 2.4 million tonnes of beef and veal in FY2015, compared to 2 million tonnes by Brazil and 1.5 million by Australia. These three countries account for 58.7 per cent of all the beef exports in the world. India itself accounts for 23.5 per cent of global beef exports. This is up from a 20.8 per cent share last year.
Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) shows that most of India’s buffalo meat exports go to Asian countries — Asia receives more than 80 per cent, while Africa takes around 15 per cent. Within Asia, Vietnam is the largest recipient, at 45 per cent.
India’s buffalo meat exports have been growing at an average of nearly 14 per cent each year since 2011, and fetching India as much as $4.8 billion in 2014. Last year, India for the first time earned more from the export of buffalo meat than it did from Basmati rice.
Several databases, including the United Nations Food and Agricultural Outlook, show that meat consumption in India is increasing. However, the data also shows that beef consumption has been falling over the years, down -44.5 per cent in 2014 from the level it was in 2000.