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  • Netra Mittal

Here's what is in store for the meat industry in India


India’s per-capita consumption of meat stands at 4.4 kg per person, which puts it at the second position on the list of countries with the least meat consumption per-person. However, this distinction can be attributed to our 2000-year-old tradition of vegetarianism. And like all old cultures, this one is changing as well.

Rising demand

The demand for meat is expected to grow faster in India with sustained economic growth, rising per capita income, strengthening urbanisation trends and increasing awareness of the nutritive value of meat and meat products. By 2020, the demand for milk is estimated to reach 143 million tonnes and that of meat and eggs eight million tonnes.

This increase in demand calls for capitalisation on the part of producers (primarily determined by the pace of development and availability of technology in the processing of livestock based products). The increase, mainly due to the rise of middle-class in India, has been accompanied by an increase in production that has picked on rather dismally.

India currently stands as one of the largest exporters of poultry meat alongside China, Brazil, EU, and Mexico. Hence, it is important to analyse the conditions that determine meat production in the country.

‘Halal’ dominates the meat market

Dominated by Muslim sellers (as far as retail level goes), the meat outlets in India sell only halal meat: Animals that have had their throat, the carotid artery, trachea, and jugular veins cut to have the blood drained out, accompanied by a religious procedure.

Although the idea of having blood slowly drained from an animal might not appeal to the majority of meat eaters, it has not been met with much opposition on their part, mainly due to the lack of alternatives. To them, it does not matter where the meat on their plates comes from, as long as it tastes good.

The Islamic community claims that the practice allows for cleaner, and purer meat, free of bacteria and blood, thereby making it softer. On the other end of the debate, animal rights activists and organisations raise their concerns. The RSPCA argues that killing animals without stunning them causes “unnecessary suffering“, while activist group PETA calls halal slaughter “prolonged torment“, saying that the animals “fight and gasp for their last breath, struggling to stand while the blood drains from their necks“.

Although much advocated against by such groups, halal remains the most prevalent method of killing animals for consumption in the world. The greatest demand for halal food comes from Indonesia (197 million market value) and Turkey (100 million). Halal food also has an estimated 15 percent growth rate and is said to be an industry worth 30 billion dollars.

The religious laws behind ‘Zabiha’ (the process of killing an animal) also say that the animal, during its lifetime, should be taken care of and treated with care. It should not be mistreated or caused any pain. It must also be provided with clean water, food, fresh air and enough space to roam. But is this indeed the case?

Courtesy : World Economic forum

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