India’s buffalo meat exports to plunge amid China clampdown on illegal imports

Exports have been hit by several temporary meat plant closures in the current financial year that reduced production, said Priya Sud, a partner at Al Noor Exports. (AP)
Updated 04 February 2019

India’s buffalo meat exports to plunge amid China clampdown on illegal imports

  • The vast majority of the beef India exports is buffalo, an animal less venerated than the indigenous Indian cow that many view as sacred

MUMBAI: India’s buffalo meat exports are set to plunge 15 percent to their lowest in six years, a leading industry body told Reuters, as world No.1 meat consumer China clamps down on food smuggling.
China does not allow imports of Indian buffalo beef due to fears over foot-and-mouth disease, but the meat is often smuggled into the country through neighboring nations along with other foods that have also been prohibited by Beijing.
The Chinese government has periodically ramped up customs controls over the last few years as it cracks down on these so-called ‘grey trade’ networks.
That has hit demand for Indian buffalo meat in places such as Vietnam, where some traders look to resell to clients in China, according to the All India Meat & Livestock Exporters Association.
“Chinese buying has been very erratic in the last couple of months and that is being reflected in export numbers,” said Fauzan Alavi, vice president at the organization.
China’s General Administration of Customs did not respond to a fax seeking comment on the issue.
Shrinking shipments from the world’s No.2 exporter of buffalo meat are likely to drag on prices for the commodity, potentially good news for buyers in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt and Iraq.
Alavi said that overall buffalo meat exports in the 2018/19 financial year that ends on March 31 could drop 15 percent from the year before to 1.15 million tons, the lowest since 2012/13. Two other exporters said shipments would likely fall more than 10 percent, without giving an exact number.
Exports in the period from last April to November declined 10 percent from the same time in 2017 to 825,570 tons, according to data from the nation’s Agriculture & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.
In 2017/18 the country’s exports stood at 1.35 million tons, with Vietnam accounting for more than half the total.
The vast majority of the beef India exports is buffalo, an animal less venerated than the indigenous Indian cow that many view as sacred.
India’s buffaloes are mainly used for dairy and are only slaughtered for meat after their milk productivity has peaked. That makes the meat produced lower quality than from beef cattle, and is mainly used in processed food, canned goods and low-end dishes. Total Indian buffalo meat exports are around $4 billion a year.
“There are times when China puts restriction on cross-border trade and export moderates,” said Alavi.
The slowdown in exports has already pulled Indian buffalo meat prices to $2,900 per ton from $3,200 six months ago, exporters said.
“Many Indian states are free from foot-and-mouth disease and exports should be allowed to China from these states,” Alavi said.
“Chinese consumers are paying unnecessarily high prices. Direct trade would help both buyers and sellers.”

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The depreciation of the rupee to record lows against the US dollar helped exporters in the first-half of the 2018/19 fiscal year, allowing them to slash prices to better-compete with exporters in top buffalo meat supplier Brazil, said a New Delhi-based exporter.
“But in last few months, demand has moderated from China,” he added, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
“Other buyers are comparatively small and can’t replace China.”
Exports have also been hit by several temporary meat plant closures in the current financial year that reduced production, said Priya Sud, a partner at Al Noor Exports, which operates abattoirs in the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India.
Uttar Pradesh, the country’s biggest meat producer, ordered the closure of meat plants during religious festivals as the provincial government, led by a radical Hindu monk, drafted policies to protect cattle.


Report: 2 Iranian lawmakers arrested for ‘disrupting’ market

Updated 22 August 2019

Report: 2 Iranian lawmakers arrested for ‘disrupting’ market

  • The report did not reveal if they have been charged with any financial crimes
  • Iran arrested several people since 2018 on corruption charges

TEHRAN: Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency says two lawmakers have been arrested for unspecified actions described as “disrupting” the country’s car market.
The report says the two lawmakers — Fereydoun Ahmadi and Mohammad Azizi — were initially taken to the Evin prison in Tehran but they were later released for about $85,000 in bail.
The report didn’t specify if the two have been charged with any financial crimes.
Iran is trying to crack down on corruption and has arrested several persons since 2018. Two prominent local businessmen have been hanged.
Iran’s economy nosedived since the US pullout from the nuclear deal last year. Prices of cars have skyrocketed as Western manufacturers pull out of the country and foreign-produced parts are becoming harder to find. China is trying to fill the void.