Halal Industry

India cattle trade ban: How much buffalo meat do Islamic countries import?

Buffaloes on a farm in India. Credit: Mcky Stocker

On June 15 India's Supreme Court will hear a petition challenging the government's ban of the sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets. 

The ban, which was announced on May 23, decreed that animal markets will only be able to trade cattle for agricultural purposes, such as ploughing and dairy farming. 

India does not officially export cow beef but buffalo meat, which is also categorised as beef, and the ban threatens India's buffalo meat export industry, worth almost $4 billion in the financial year April 2016 to March 2017. 

Countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) import a large amount of buffalo meat from India. If the government's ban is upheld by the Supreme Court, OIC countries will have to seek alternatives. 

OIC countries already import substantial amounts of meat from Brazil, Australia, United States, and France. 

Newer exporters vying for the OIC meat trade includes Mexico, which is diversifying its trade mix as it reduces its dependence on buyers in the U.S.

Indonesia already said last month it has met beef traders from Mexico.

1. How much buffalo meat does India export?

Data source: APEDA Agrixchange

India is the world's largest exporter of buffalo meat. It exported $3.933 billion in the financial year April 2016 to March 2017, down from $4.069 billion in the previous corresponding period. The Indian government attributed this drop to restriction for imports through Vietnam by China, erosion of price competitiveness to Brazil due to the devaluation of the Brazilian reais, and instability in importing markets such as Syria and Yemen.

2. How much of India's buffalo meat do OIC countries import?

Data source: APEDA Agrixchange

OIC countries imported $1.635 billion of India's buffalo meat in the financial year April 2016 to March 2017. This is equivalent to 42 percent of the value of India's total buffalo meat exports. 

3. Which OIC countries are the biggest importers of India's buffalo meat?

Data source: APEDA Agrixchange

Vietnam is by far the biggest importer of India's buffalo meat, the bulk of which eventually finds its way to China. The People's Republic does not officially import any buffalo meat from India. 

Eight OIC countries made up the top ten importers of Indian buffalo meat for the financial year April 2016 to March 2017: Malaysia, Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Algeria, UAE, and Oman.

Collectively, these eight bought $1.42 billion of India's buffalo meat, equivalent to 86 percent of all OIC countries' buffalo meat imports.


Jun 13: India cattle trade ban cripples production volumes, prices rise

Jun 4: India's beef exporters lobby, appeal against cattle trade ban

May 30: Indian court orders suspension of ban on trade in cattle for slaughter

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