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Status and prospects of Indian meat industry
Monday, 16 April, 2012, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dr B G Mane

The contribution of livestock sector to the food basket in the form of milk, eggs and meat has been immense in fulfilling the animal protein requirement of ever-growing human population. The livestock sector is an important component of Indian agriculture. India has a huge livestock population (Table 1) and efficient utilisation of these resources including production and utilisation of livestock products is important to earn increased returns and sustain livestock production activities.

During the last three to four decades, India has witnessed the green, white, yellow and blue revolutions and now the time has come to realise one more revolution i.e. red/pink revolution in the form of meat production. In fact, in spite of big potential because of large livestock population, the meat industry in India has not taken its due share. There are many reasons for the slow growth rate of the Indian meat industry, including the negative attitude of public towards meat on account of misinformation campaign and socio-political considerations.

Livestock population, meat production, slaughter rate, export

The present production of meat is estimated at 6.27 million tons in 2010 (FAO, 2012), which is 2.21% of the world's meat production. The contribution of meat from buffalo is about 23.33%, while cattle contributes about 17.34%, sheep 4.61%, goat 9.36%, pig 5.31%, poultry 36.68% and other species 3.37%. The meat production has increased from 764,000 tonnes in 1970-71 to 6.27 million tons in 2010. The compounded average growth rate (CAGR) during the last two decades works out to be 4.5%. It is noticed that about 10.6% cattle, 10.6% buffaloes, 24.1% sheep, 58.7% goats, 95.0% pigs and 190.0% chicken are slaughtered each year. The value of meat and by-products is Rs 79,889 crore including skin and hides, while the export value of meat and meat products work outs to be more than Rs 6,000 crore in the year 2009-10. The contribution of buffalo meat accounts for more than 75% of total exports/foreign earnings. The present status of livestock population/production is given in Table 1.

The poultry has gaining the widely acceptance by consumers and growing 10-15% annually. The chicken meat contributes about 37% meat to total production and number one contributors. The growth is expected more in near future. This might be due to popularity, price, easy availability, no religious taboos and much more characteristics in poultry.

Meat production potential

In spite of big potential, the Indian meat industry has not taken its due share. The major constraints for the meat industry are lack of scientific approach to rearing of meat animals, unorganised nature of meat production and marketing, socio-economic taboos associated with meat eating, inadequate infrastructure facilities and poor post-harvest management. The situation is further compounded by insistence of domestic consumers to buy freshly cut meat from the wet market, rather than processed or frozen. A majority of these abattoirs have outdated, primitive slaughtering facilities, use unhygienic practices and lack basic facilities for the production of wholesome and safe meat for domestic consumers. Further, most of the meat for domestic consumption comes from poultry, sheep and goat that are slaughtered in unorganised/unregistered premises/meat shops. Livestock development is not in coherence with the requirements of meat consumption and meat business. Productivity of meat breeds has not tapped adequately. Livestock farmers are unaware of the potential of meat business. Many middle men are involved in livestock marketing. Livestock marketing is not well organised. There is no integration of animal farming, meat producers, processors and marketing. Potentiality of male buffalo for meat production is not realised.

Meat production practices

The meat animals are slaughtered in specially constructed establishment/place/premises/building wherein food animals are slaughtered for production of meat and slaughter by-products with licensing from the concerned authority is called as slaughter-house. Modern abattoir is also a slaughter-house where animals are slaughtered under humane and hygienic conditions for production of wholesome and safe meat for human consumption. Recently, "meat plant" is the word which has been introduced in the place of "slaughter houses" and "abattoirs" for two reasons: to obviate the bad feelings about animal slaughter and to denote factory system of operations by which the animals are handled humanely and the total operations are done hygienically and methodologically and, many a times, in a forward integration manner which include operations like carcass cutting, production of custom-designed retail and lean cuts, their packaging and dispatch.

Initially, slaughtering was a backyard proposition. Every meat trader used to slaughter his food animals in the space adjacent to his selling premises. Slaughter operations produced lot of blood and animal wastes and, if these are not cleaned properly, they would stink because they are all perishable materials of organic origin. As awareness about the implications of meat on human health grew and the deleterious effects on the environment were realised more and more, governments considered "meat inspection" as one of their obligations to the society. Centralised premises were constructed for slaughter of food animals. Acts and ordinances were promulgated on meat inspection to the effect that sale of carcasses and offal's meant for human consumption should have been produced only from animals slaughtered in these special premises and passed through meat inspection procedures. Backyard slaughtering was banned and slaughter houses came into existence.

In India, there are about 4,000 registered slaughter houses with the local bodies and more than 25,000 unregistered premises, where animals are slaughtered to fulfil the demands of domestic consumers. There are about 20 integrated abattoirs-cum-meat processing plants with state-of-the-art facilities for hygienic meat production to meet the export demands, where animals are received from the suppliers who procure the animals from the weekly markets.

Existing conditions of slaughter-houses for domestic supply

The existing condition in the majority of the traditionally slaughter-houses is far from satisfactory. Most of the slaughter-houses are lacking basic facilities like water, electricity, ventilation, drainage, ceramic flooring, overhead rails and waste disposal. Animals are slaughtered in traditional ways on the open ground with/without further processing or dressing on the floor/rails are the common practices in a majority of the slaughter-houses. Carcasses are exposed to heavy contamination from dung and soil. Situation is further aggravated by inadequate ante-and post-mortem inspection practices. The quality of meat produced in these existing slaughterhouses is unhygienic and carries high levels of microbial contamination. Though cooking may kill many of the microorganisms in meat, cross-contamination of the products eventually occurs under the prevailing conditions of meat-handling. Enormous quantities of by-products are not utilised efficiently and economically. These existing slaughter houses are mostly under the local governmental authority and no one is brother about their 'upgradation'and consumer/public health point of view. The authority is concerned for the collection of money in such type of slaughter houses. There is urgent need to upgrade these slaughter-houses with minimum basic facilit
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