India Emerges as Second Largest Beef Exporter in the World

Brazil was the biggest exporter of beef in 2023, followed by India, which exports water buffalo, the United States and Australia.

An investigation by the environmental and human rights group Global Witness, first reported by the BBC, has revealed that three of the world’s major meat producers are linked to acts of illegal deforestation in the Cerrado plains of Brazil. The investigation names JBS, Minerva and Marfrig for illegal deforestation, all of which deny wrongdoing. The investigation focused on the state of Mato Grosso, which is home to just a small part of the expansive Cerrado. It found that much of the land that had been deforested for ranches owned by the three companies did not have permits to remove the trees, suggesting it was illegal.

The news comes as the deadline for companies to comply with a new law in the European Union called the EU Deforestation Regulation draws near (December 30, 2024 and June 30, 2025 for micro or small businesses). According to the EUDR, all companies that sell goods to the EU will need to prove that their produce was not grown on land deforested after 2020, or else face heavy fines. Observers say that this law will penalise smallholder farmers unable to provide the relevant data needed to comply, cutting off important streams of revenue.

Just some of the products affected by this law will be beef, coffee, palm oil and soy. Global Witness campaigners take another issue with the law, however, stating that it is not stringent enough, as its current wording means that unlike the Amazon, the Cerrado plains are not fully covered by the measures.

As the following chart shows, Brazil was the biggest exporter of beef in 2023, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture. Forecasts, as of April 2023, predicted that the country would export more than 3 million tons of beef that year. The other major players in beef exports in 2023 were India, which exports water buffalo, the United States and Australia. When looking at the countries that produce the most beef, a different order appears. Then, the US is in first rank, as it sells much of its beef domestically.

Infographic: The Biggest Exporters of Beef in the World | Statista