India’s changing appetite throws up meaty issues



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Thursday 7 February 2013

Last update 7 February 2013 12:14 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

With German sausages, French duck delicacies and homegrown chicken, Francis Menezes is cashing in on the growing appetite for meat among Indians — even in one of Mumbai’s most strictly vegetarian areas.
In the upmarket neighborhood of Malabar Hill, numerous shops, restaurants and even some apartment blocks remain meat-free.
But Menezes, co-manager of the Cafe Ridge food store, says he does a brisk trade in “non-veg,” especially with those who have studied abroad.
“The new generation are cool with eating anything,” he said.
India’s booming middle-class is driving the demand for meat in a country with a traditionally low intake — a survey in 2006 showed that 40 percent of the population were vegetarian.
Fish and meat have long been part of other Indians’ diets but for many they used to be a rarity, said Arvind Singhal, chairman of the consumer consultancy group Technopak Advisers.
“With rising disposable incomes, meat consumption is increasing,” he told AFP. “Before meat would have been seen as for a special occasion.”
Members of the Jain faith and some groups within India’s majority Hindu religion hold vegetarianism as an ideal. Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi espoused a meat-free diet as part of his non-violent philosophy.
But fewer of the younger generation appear to feel the same.
Despite coming from a “hardcore veg” Hindu community, Ishita Manek is an enthusiastic member of the Mumbai Meat Marathon, a group that gets together every weekend to try out protein-heavy dishes.
“It’s just to do with the country progressing. The mindset is changing and no one really sticks to traditional values anymore,” she said, although she admitted her mother dislikes her love of beef, a taboo under Hinduism.
There are no recent figures on overall meat consumption, but the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 2007 put India’s per capita intake at 5.0 to 5.5kg — the country’s highest since records began, with further increases expected.
With chicken a favorite meat, the rapid rise of the domestic poultry market is a good indication of changing diets.
Currently worth an estimated $ 9 billion, it is growing at an annual rate of 20 percent, driven by broiler meat, according to Technopak.
Farm manager Vijay Sakhrani turned to the broiler business back in 1982 with 2,000 chickens. He now rears more than 800,000 a year as a contract farmer for Indian poultry giant Venky’s.
“You have self-employment, you require a small space. In a small space you can do a lot of business,” he told AFP in Koregaon Mul village, 30 kms from western Pune city, where he said numerous other farmers had followed his foray into poultry.
Venky’s general manager Vijay Tijare described a “chicken revolution” going on in India and one, he believes, that can supply the need for economical protein among the nation’s 1.2 billion people.
The company’s thriving fortunes enabled it fund the takeover of the leading English football club Blackburn Rovers three years ago.
With a median age of 26.5, India’s calorie needs are set to grow faster than the population, but the domestic supply of vegetable proteins has not kept up with demand and India is now the biggest importer of pulses.
Others see mass-produced meat as only doing damage to middle-class diets, especially when cooked at the growing number of fast-food joints. While malnutrition is wide-scale among India’s poor, an estimated 63 million in the country had diabetes in 2012.
“Industrial meat is adding to the crisis in health,” said food security analyst Sangita Sharma.
“Consumers are oblivious as to what is going on their plates.”
Changing consumption patterns also threaten to exacerbate the country’s environmental pressures.
India is the world’s top buffalo meat exporter, despite the beef taboo, and the leading emitter of greenhouse gas methane from livestock, according to a report from the New York-based think tank Brighter Green last year.
Citing water scarcity and intense strains on land, the group said it was crucial for India to promote plant-based diets and prioritise less resource-intensive industries than livestock.
“With 500 million cows, buffalo, goats, sheep, camels and billions of chickens, 600 million farmers and 1.2 billion people, the competition is on in India for natural resources,” said its report.
Singhal too expressed concerns, especially the challenge thrown up in diverting grains to animal feed, which critics say takes food away from the poorest members of society.
He said one way to ease the pressures was to think beyond India’s traditional desire for self-sufficiency.
He criticized a ban on poultry imports from the United States, despite the fact that chicken legs are popular in India but often go to waste in America. The ban is purportedly to prevent bird flu but has been challenged by Washington as disguised trade restrictions.
India’s per capita meat consumption for now remains well below the Asian average, but with its population due to become the world’s largest in coming years, analysts are calling for greater attention to how its food is produced.
“India needs to realize it is not a vegetarian country,” Singhal said.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) on Tuesday said it is not against communication services and applications in the Kingdom, but telecom companies will have to respect the Kingdom’s rules and regulations.The teleco...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Education (MoE) has allocated over 180 clinics for schools in Riyadh and directed all its departments across the Kingdom to recruit health advisers at schools with more than 100 students.Work has already started on introducing...
RIYADH: The Moroccan experience in desert tourism is largely similar to that of Saudi Arabia, which boasts of a unique diversity in culture in its different regions, Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National...
JAZAN: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the advanced field hospital of the Armed Forces in Jazan on Tuesday.He was reassured about the injured in the ongoing battle. He conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King S...
JEDDAH: The planned “North Thunder” military exercise is a clear message to Iran and the countries in the region it supports that any hostile intentions and actions will be firmly dealt with, an expert has said.The military drill is scheduled to be h...
RIYADH: Syrian conjoined twins will be separated at the King Abdullah Specialist Children’s Hospital at the King Abdul Aziz Medical City (KAMC) in Riyadh on Sunday.According to a KAMC spokesman, the forthcoming surgery will be the fourth and final st...
JEDDAH: Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa has issued an order to establish a department for school security. It will be be linked organizationally to the general supervisor of school safety and security at the ministry.According to the decision, schoo...
JEDDAH: From delivering mails for Saudi Aramco to captaining Saudi Arabian Airlines’ first flight to New York, Jazza Al-Shammari’s career story is unique.“I started my career as a postman with Saudi Aramco in 1959 and continued the primary studies at...
RIYADH: A team of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center (KFSHRC) has identified a gene responsible for cardiomyopathy.Dr. Zuhair bin Nasser Al-Hasnan, KFSHRC medical genetics consultant, said the team conducted a study on a Saudi...
JEDDAH: The Pakistan Welfare Society (PWS) organized a free medical camp and discussion on health for women at the Pakistani Consulate recently.Doctors and specialists diagnosed patients and distributed free medicines to needy patients, and arranged...
JEDDAH: Yemen Vice President and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah has thanked Saudi Arabia for standing by his country during tough times.Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Tuesday, he said: “Our GCC brothers, particularly Saudi Arabia, s...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia joined the rest of the world in intensifying public awareness on cancer with activities spread over the week supporting the global cause that aims to save millions of lives every year by raising awareness and education about the...
RIYADH: Chairman of ACWA Power International Mohammed Abu Nayyan thanked King Mohammed VI of Morocco for personally inaugurating Morocco’s first solar power plant, Noor1, built by an international consortium led by his company.“We were extremely priv...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health is considering imposing an asset declaration as well as an absence of interest conflict testimony on its employees as a measure in fighting corruption.Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih made the announcement at a one-day f...
DAMMAM: Abdussalam Kanniyan, chairman of the International Indian School in Dammam (IISD), has been honored with the “Person of the Year 2015” award by Vatakara NRI Forum, a community group in the Eastern Province.The award was based on his outstandi...

Stay Connected

Facebook