India’s domestic meat and poultry industry is struggling to break free from being a traditional backyard trade, even if its exporters are improving standards, a Meat and Poultry Summit organised by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in New Delhi has been told.
Addressing its inaugural session on Monday, Rakesh Kacker, the top official (secretary) at the central government ministry of food processing industries, said: “The [Indian meat] industry is able to meet the stringent standards when it comes to exports, [however] the same is not maintained in the domestic market.”
According to Kacker, the single largest problem is that Indian consumers prefer unprocessed meat, because it is cheaper than packaged meat.
These market dynamics hinder industry modernisation, Ashwani Kumar Rajput, executive director of the All India Poultry Breeders Association told globalmeatnews.com at the event. He said even though the government recognises the need for higher-level meat processing, there are no financial incentives for businesses to install new technology. “Small poultry owners often arrange funding at high interest rates from private micro financers,” he said, “The government should set up a technology up-gradation fund to arrange cheap credits for the poultry industry.”
Gokul Chandra Pati, secretary of the central government’s department of animal husbandry, said: “While a lot of incentives exist for the dairy sector, not much has been made available for the development of the meat sector.”
This is despite the fact that the industry serves millions of rural people. According to the CII, livestock contributes 25% of the gross value added to India’s agriculture sector and provides self-employment to 21 million people, mostly small and landless farmers. The average growth of livestock output has been 4.8% per annum during the last five years and domestic demand for meat is expected to exceed seven million tonnes by 2017, almost half of which will be poultry meat.
Among the reasons for this growth is new demand from the emerging middle class. According to Rajput, the number of non-vegetarian consumers, especially among young hygiene-focused consumers is increasing fast, mainly due to the wide variety of dishes offered by modern fast food chains.