C. India is forecast to become the world's leading beef exporter in 2012 due to an expanding dairy herd, efficiency improvements, increased slaughter and price-competitiveness in the international market particularly vis-à-vis Brazil.
India's exports are exclusively deboned frozen buffalo meat (carabeef) which is included in USDA's (United States Department of Agriculture) global estimates of beef (bovine) meat production.
According to the most recent Indian Livestock Census (2007), buffalo comprise approximately one third of the bovine herd. Buffalo are preferred to cattle due to their adaptability to climatic conditions and high milk fat content as dairy production fuels the bovine sector.
Federal law prohibits the slaughter of all cattle (male and female ) as well as productive (in milk) bovines (cattle and buffalo). Thus beef/carabeef production is driven by buffalo slaughter which is allowed, albeit restricted to males and unproductive females.
Export sales have made significant inroads in the Middle East,North Africa and Southeast Asia (key Brazilian markets) as all carabeef is lower priced and produced according to halal standards. Further, carabeef is lean, with positive blending characteristics important to processors. In 2012, additional export orientated slaughterhouses are expected to come on line, increasing supplies.
Production gains are largely destined for the export market. Domestic demand is constrained by cold-chain facilities and consumer preference for non-bovine proteins such as poultry products, dairy products and pulses therefore merely keeping pace with population growth.