Between 2010 and 2015, India’s imports of pig meat increased at an average annual rate of 11 percent, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. In 2015, the volume jumped 28 percent from the previous year.

In recent years, the major suppliers of pork to India have been Belgium, Sri Lanka, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands, according to FAS. In 2015, pig meat products also came in from the UK and Germany. The basic tariff on imports of pork and pork products is 30 percent.

India’s restrictive sanitary import protocol effectively prevents pork exports from the U.S., but early in 2016, the Canadian government secured export market access for its pig meat and products.

Main driver of Indian pork market

With a high proportion of Muslims and vegetarians in the population, pork consumption per person in India is negligible. However, demand from the hotel, restaurant and institutional sector as well in high-end retailers helped to push up imports to 527 metric tons (581 US tons) last year. Imported products included pork belly, chops, loin, tenderloin, neck, shoulder, spare ribs, bacon, ham, salami and sausages.

Domestic pork consumption

While demand from high-end hotels, restaurants and retailers is driving imports of pork products to India, there is a largely separate but significant market for locally produced pig meat in north-eastern states - which include Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura - as well as in Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Goa and Kerala, according to the FAS.

These markets tend to be for fresh pork, largely from indigenous breeds of pig, which are slower growing and less productive than modern lines. Reared mainly on agricultural byproducts and kitchen waste, the pigs are slaughtered at around 40kg live weight at wet markets.

There have been government-supported efforts to raise productivity through imported genetics, the establishment of pig breeding and rearing units, and disease control programs.

Figures from the statistical group of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, FAOstat, give Indian production of pig meat in 2013 at just under 353,600 metric tons (389 US tons), a significant drop from 469,600 metric tons (518 US tons) reported 10 years previously.