India is poised to become the world’s largest exporter of beef/buffalo meat next year according to the US Department of Agriculture.
A USDA report has forecast that India will overtake the Australia, Brazil and the US as in export volumes as demand for its buffalo meat grows among price sensitive customers in South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
"Given India's explosive export growth, India is likely to become the world's largest beef (buffalo meat) exporter by 2013, if not sooner," the USDA said.
However the report also notes that Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) status will continue to greatly limit India’s ability to access new and higher-value markets.
“While there are rumours of new market openings in Eastern Europe and Indonesia, no known trade has yet occurred in these regions and India's FMD status makes this seem unlikely," it said.
A report in The Indian Express newspaper said Indian exporters were operating voluntary vaccination programs to combat FMD, and the government had funded a program to tackle the disease.
While these programs were positive steps, the reality of FMD remained a significant hurdle for expanding market access, USDA said.
In October last year the USDA forecast that Australia and Brazil would remain the largest exporters of beef in 2012 with exports of 1.38m tonnes each, followed by India at 1.28m tonnes and the US with 1.25mt.
That forecast said factors other than price would also help to expand Indian buffalo meat exports, particularly to North Africa and the Middle East.
“Meat is slaughtered following Halal standards and the lean character of buffalo meat has several positive blending characteristics sought by processors,” the USDA said.
India has a herd of 185m buffalo. Ample supplies and relative weak domestic demand mean that it relies on export markets to absorb increased production.