Meat Industry In India: Current State, Challenges, And Growth Opportunities

PV Vyshnavi PV Vyshnavi
Jun 28, 2021 7 min read
Meat Industry In India: Current State, Challenges, And Growth Opportunities

The meat production industry is a vital part of the Indian agricultural setup. According to a research, meat production in India is estimated at 6.3 million tons annually and is ranked 5th in the world in terms of production volume. India is responsible for 3% of the total meat production in the world. The nation has the world’s largest population of livestock at about 515 million.

The meat production segment has witnessed a healthy growth rate. It is known for generating reasonable returns for the producers. In India, beef and pork serve as valuable nutrition-filled consumables and are available at relatively lower prices. Almost 70% of the Indian population is non-vegetarian. The per capita meat consumption in India every year is around 5.2kg. Chicken and fish have the highest consumption rate. The consumption of poultry meat in India was over 3.9 million metric tons in 2020.

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The Indian Meat Market
Why is India a Favorable Destination for Poultry and Food Processing Industries?
Advantages of Starting Meat and Poultry Production in India
Opportunity in Poultry and Meat Sector
Challenges Faced by The Meat Industry in India
More About The Meat Industry in India
The Future of Meat Industry

The Indian Meat Market

India exports more than more than 7,000 metric tons of poultry meat to other countries. Livestock trading in India is regulated by the state governments. India has the lowest per capita meat consumption in the world. It was just 5.6 kg in 2013, whereas the global average was 33.2 kg in that year. The Indian meat market mostly focuses on fresh meat; frozen meat is mostly exported.

The volume of meat produced from 2016 to 2019 in India.
The volume of meat produced from 2016 to 2019 in India.

India has a large resource pool of animal castings and other by-products. The meat industry in India grew substantially during the periods of 2006-2007 and 2012- 2013. India is the second largest producer of buffalo meat in the world. The poultry meat segment is the largest sub-sector in the country's meat industry and owned almost 50% of the total meat production in 2012-13. It is followed by beef/buffalo meat, goat meat, pork meat, sheep meat, and lamb meat.

Uttar Pradesh (UP) is the largest meat producer followed by Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu in the specified order. Sustained income and economic growth, a growing urban population, rapidly growing middle class, changing lifestyles, improvement in transportation and storage facilities, and the rise of supermarkets in rural towns are fueling the rapid increase in the consumption of animal-based food products in India.

Why is India a Favorable Destination for Poultry and Food Processing Industries?

  • India is the fastest growing economy in the world.
  • It is the largest producer of agricultural commodities.
  • It has the second largest consumer market globally.
  • India has significant investments in world class ports, logistics, and supply chain infrastructure.
  • Proactive government policies.
  • Investor-friendly incentives.
  • Highly skilled manpower.

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Advantages of Starting Meat and Poultry Production in India

  • India has the world’s largest population of livestock.
  • India produces around 5.3 million metric tons of meat and 75 billion eggs annually.
  • India is the largest producer of buffalo meat and the second largest producer of goat meat.
  • The current processing level in poultry is 6% while it stands at 21% for meat.
  • Poultry is a highly integrated industry.
  • The country is on par with the efficiency levels of many western countries.
  • The government of India has taken steps for modernization of municipal slaughter houses to provide safe and hygienic meat to consumers.
  • Export-oriented units have invested significantly in the establishment of large slaughter houses-cum-meat processing plants laden with the latest technology.
  • Farm automation, slaughter houses, logistics, and point-of-sale cold storage infrastructures are amazing growth avenues in India given the changing preference of Indian consumers for clean, safe, and hygienic meat products.

There are about 27 modern meat processing plants (approved after due inspection) for the export of meat. All export oriented units (EOU) are registered with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) of India.

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Opportunity in Poultry and Meat Sector

The table below outlines the growth opportunities for the 'technology and equipment suppliers' and 'poultry industry players'.

Technology and Equipment Suppliers Poultry Industry Players
New technologies in meat and poultry processing. New products that add value such as frozen products, RTC/RTE, and snacks.
Cold chains. Egg powder plants.
New veterinary technologies and services. New feed formulations.
Food testing labs. Hatcheries.

Challenges Faced by the Meat Industry in India

One of the major challenges is improving the productivity of farm animals. The average annual milk yield of Indian cattle is 1172 kg which is only about 50 per cent of the global average. The frequent outbreak of infections like the foot and mouth disease, black quarter infection, and influenza severely impacts livestock health and lowers productivity.

The next problem is the generation of greenhouse gases by the humongous population of herbivorous animals in India. Reducing the emissions through mitigation and adaptation strategies is a major challenge.

Crossbreeding of indigenous species with exotic stocks to enhance the genetic potential of different species has been successful only to a limited extent.

A breakdown of meat production trend in India.
A breakdown of meat production trend in India.

Unregulated meat markets, tropical climate, inadequate slaughterhouse hygiene measures, and the lack of surveillance of meat-borne diseases enhance the risk of health-related and occupational hazards. According to research, there are about 8000 registered and more than 20,000 unregistered slaughterhouses in the country and most of them are devoid of basic amenities like light and ventilation. Moreover, the slaughtering and carcass-dressing processes are performed in open areas in highly unhygienic conditions following which the meat is sold with little or no veterinary inspection.

Finally, the meat production segment is largely unorganized. Traditional production systems and disorderly practices have spoilt the reputation of the Indian meat industry.

More about the Meat Industry in India

While India has an abundant supply of meat, the meat processing industry is yet to catch up. Meat processing covers a spectrum of products. It includes animal husbandry, poultry farm produce, bulk frozen meat, chilled and deli meat, packaged meat, and ready-to-eat processed meat products.

There is immense scope for meat processing in poultry. In fact, the poultry industry has made considerable progress by developing and marketing value-added products. The meat industry is slowly yet steadily catching pace on the global front with India now exporting both frozen and fresh chilled meat to more than 60 countries.

The major item of export is de-boned frozen buffalo meat which accounts for 97 per cent of the total meat export. The major markets for Indian buffalo meat are Malaysia and Egypt while for sheep meat and goat meat, the markets are UAE, Iran, and Jordan. India also exports a small quantity of processed meat to Thailand, Yemen, and Japan and some poultry products to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar.

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The Future of Meat Industry

Raising animals that are in good health is essential for the production of good quality meat. Farmers’ cooperatives can play a major role in the nourishment and marketing of hale and hearty livestock. They can also encourage backward integration/contract farming. Above all, if the Indian meat industry wants to achieve global recognition, the maintenance of food safety at all stages of production, processing, packing, storage, and marketing of meat and meat-derived products while adhering to the standards prescribed by the importing countries shall make a significant impact.


What is livestock industry?

Livestock industry is the industry dealing with raising the animals and processing of the animal products for consumers.

What is meat industry?

The meat industry handles the slaughtering, processing, packaging, and distribution of animals such as poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep and other livestock.

What is the rank of India in meat production?

India ranks 5th in meat production.

Who is the largest meat producer in the world?

The United States is the largest meat producer in the world.

Which state is the largest producer of meat in India?

Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of meat in India.

Which country is largest supplier of meat?

Brazil is the largest exporter of meat.

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