On Friday we provided an overview of the changes in cattle numbers in key countries and the implications this had for US beef imports/exports in the coming year. But as some of our readers correctly pointed out, our discussion omitted India, a country that has emerged as a significant global supplier of bovine meat in recent years. Note here that we use ‘bovine meat’ as a catchall phrase to include beef produced from both cattle and buffaloes. There were two reasons why we left India out of our Friday letter. First, the discussion was specifically focused on the US and we think that India is only a marginal competitor with the US as it does not have access to key Asian markets due to its FMD status. Second, we also were focusing on countries that are or may become beef suppliers to the US. Again, due to the FMD status, we do not see India shipping beef to the US in the foreseeable future. Having said that, we think the rise of India in the global beef trade is a tremendously important factor. Global beef demand is expected to expand in the coming decade with improving incomes and diets in developing markets. As the US seeks to expand in non traditional markets in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, it will face stiff competition from abundant, cheaper and sometimes socially preferred (halal preferences) Indian beef.

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