ANALYSIS - India has seen its exports of livestock products rise by more than 60 per cent over the last three years and now these products are playing an increasingly important role in the socio-economic life of the country.
The country has developed a rich source of diverse animal products including milk, meat and eggs.
And it has become the largest producer of milk in the world with a 16.43 per cent share of total global milk production.
India also accounts for 4.95 per cent of the world’s egg production and it has the largest population of milking/meat producing animals in the world with 112.9 million buffalo, 157 million goats and 74.5 million sheep.
Such a large resource for meat, dairy and egg production has meant that India has not only been supplying its domestic market and its growing population – now nearly 1.276 billion people – but also a burgeoning export market.
Although the main destinations for India’s livestock products are the South East Asian countries as well as Africa and the Middle East, it is also starting to make inroads into the more developed markets of the western world.
In 2014-2015, Indian exports of animal products was worth Rs331.283 billion ($5.08 billion), with the largest part being exports of buffalo meat worth Rs 292.826 billion ($4.5 billion).
Sheep and goat meat exports in the same year were Rs8.281 billion ($127 million) poultry products were Rs6.512 billion ($99.8 million) dairy products Rs 12.054 billion ($185 million), processed meat products Rs142.1 million ($2.2 million) and other meat products Rs 26.7 million ($409,478).
It has been the demand for Indian buffalo meat on the international markets that has sparked a sudden increase in meat exports.
Buffalo meat accounts for 86 per cent of all India’s meat exports and the growth was marked with a 27 per cent rise in the 2012/13 financial year and since then the growth has been more than 70 per cent – rising from Rs174.13 billion in 2012/13 to Rs 292.826 billion last year.
With 88 million buffalo, India has 58 per cent of the global buffalo population with the majority being raised in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab.
Last year the volume of buffalo meat exports reached 1,475,526.01 tonnes up from 1,107,506.27 tonnes in 2012/13 and 1,449,758.65 tonnes last year.
Most of the buffalo meat is exported either as chilled or frozen carcases or as fresh or frozen bone-in and boneless cuts, with Viet Nam, Malaysia, Egypt, Thailand and Saudi Arabia being the main destinations.
In the dairy sector, India is now the largest producer of dairy products in the world and last year produced nearly 100 million tonnes of milk – 15 per cent more than the US and three times as much as China.
Over the last decade, the dairy sector has shown strong development largely in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu.
In 2012/13 exports jumped by 388 per cent, when they reached 87,824.21 tones. They rose even more the next year to 159,228.51 tonnes but have fallen back over the last year to 66,424.37 tonnes, worth Rs 12.054 billion.
The main destinations for Indian dairy products are Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan.
Sheep and Goats
Sheep and goats represent an important part of the Indian livestock sector, largely because they are easy to breed and raise quickly for market. Sheep and goat meat is also easy to market in the country and they have an important role to play in the development of rural areas in India.
There are a number of initiatives promoting quality labels and new cheese, meat and wool products that have help to give sheep and goats an image of an eco-friendly and sustainable livestock.
However, the Agricultural and Processed Foods Export Development Authority (APEDA) says that the economic future of the sheep and goat sector in India will depend on the standards of living in the countries and regions where there is a market for sheep and goat products.
Last year, India exported 23,611.55 tonnes of sheep and goat meat, worth Rs8.281 billion, largely to the Middle East - United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.
The poultry industry in India is one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the country.
While crop production – another rapid grower – has seen growth of between 1.5 and two per cent a year, eggs and broilers have shown a growth rate of between eight and 10 per cent a year.
Because of this, India is now the fifth largest egg producer and the 18th largest producer of broilers in the world.
According to the APEDA, the potential in the sector is due to a combination of factors - growth in per capita income, a growing urban population and falling real poultry prices.
Poultry meat is the fastest growing component of global meat demand, and India, the world's second largest developing country, is experiencing rapid growth in its poultry sector.
In India, as in other developing and emerging nations, the poultry sector growth is being driven by rising incomes and a rapidly expanding middle class, together with the emergence of vertically integrated poultry producers that have reduced consumer prices by lowering production and marketing costs.
Integrated production, market transition from live birds to chilled and frozen products, and policies that ensure supplies of competitively priced corn and soybeans are key to future poultry industry growth in India.
The country has a number of small poultry dressing plants, producing dressed chickens, but there are also five modern integrated poultry processing plants producing dressed chicken, chicken cut parts and other chicken products. These plants also manufacture egg powder and frozen egg-yolk for export.
Tamil Nadu is the main region for egg production and Andhra Pradesh and in particular Hyderabad have the main poultry production and hatcheries.
Vishakhapatnam, Chittoor, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and North Eastern States are the major egg contributors.
Last year India exported 556698.81 tonnes of poultry products worth Rs6.512 billion mainly to Oman, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
India has a small trade in other meats including, pig meat, horse meat, rabbits, camels and even primates.
The main areas for producing the major meat in this sector, pig meat, are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra and the main export markets are Bhutan, Nepal, Angola, Bahrain and France.
The total volume of the market in 2014-15 was just 261.92 tonnes, worth Rs26.7 million.