If the India beef ban proceeds a large global beef export share – 20 percent annually – will be up for grabs.
If the India beef ban proceeds a large global beef export share – 20 percent annually – will be up for grabs.

Compiled by CBW Staff

India caused a ruckus in the global meat industry recently with its May 30 announcement it would prohibit the sale and purchase of cattle – including water buffalo – for slaughter across India.

Cattle are considered sacred for Hindus, which constitute a major population of India with 80 percent of the population identifying with the religion.

The slaughter of cows, as well as the possession or consumption of beef, is banned in most but not all Indian states. Some impose up to life imprisonment for infringements.

Over the last year at least a dozen people, mostly Muslims, have been killed by Hindu mobs over rumors that they were eating beef, slaughtering cows or smuggling them.

The Madras High Court in the southern state of Tamil Nadu stayed the federal ban on May 31, becoming the first jurisdiction to mount a successful challenge against the government decree.

Impact on US beef?

How does cattle slaughter news in India impact the U.S. cattle producer? 

India is the largest exporter of carabeef (water buffalo), up to a value of $4 billion annually. If India’s beef ban proceeds that market share will need to be shifted somewhere else. 

The news of India’s ban set global beef prices rising as many speculated on what country would fill the orders. The challenges in court will take time along with implementing the ban if it is allowed to go into effect. Regardless, analysts and investors alike are betting on the world beef supply to tighten because of the news.

India’s biggest beef export partners are Asia, Africa and Russia. It has routinely tied with Brazil for top meat export volume but Brazil has been facing meat scandal after meat scandal – which has dampened its export relations. Australia, ranked third for exporting in 2016 by the USDA, will be the United State’s (ranked fourth) top opponent for clinching India’s market share.

Australia meat exporters doubt the India ban will last but still they are cheering the news as India had become a tough competitor for market the country’s beef export share in Indonesia. 

CEO of the Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association, Stuart Kemp, said India’s ban could see more demand for Australia beef.

“What we’ve seen in the last six to 10 months is turnoff from feedlots and slaughter numbers down 40 to 50 percent, since the introduction of Indian buffalo,” Kemp told ABC Australia.

“But if that competition is not there, you would like to think that would make trading a bit better for importers and feedlotters.

“[However] there is a lot of product [Indian buffalo meat] in the supply chain that will take a long time to filter through, so if there is an impact on our trade it will still be some time away.”