Introducing a pre-export inspection for ractopamine on meat imported to Russia could hit the Russian market badly. Experts estimate that if the issue is not resolved quickly, Russia may lose 42% of all meat imports, creating a sharp rise in prices.
Igor Bukharov, president of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers, said: “This ban has hit our market quite strongly. I believe meat prices will rise by 30% – possibly even more. After all, America has been our main supplier of beef. Currently, Europe is not supplying [Russia] with meat – imports are prohibited because of BSE and other diseases. The volume of meat we produce ourselves is not enough [to meet the needs of the country].”
According to experts, the danger to shops, restaurants and cafés lies in the loss of existing contracts.
“Usually with such changes, the authorities warn us three months before they are actually implemented, so buyers have time to renegotiate contracts. The opening gap could be filled by meat from Australia, but that would certainly take some time,” Bukharov added.
Wholesalers are also facing considerable financial risk, according to market insiders, with imported products facing the possibility being destroyed if they fail to pass inspection. Also, all imported meat in 2013 will automatically become 3-4% more expensive, to cover the cost of inspection.
In an official letter, head of Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor Nikolai Vlasov explained that this year it will establish a transition period, during which Russian laboratories will examine imported meat for traces of ractopamine. These checks incur fees and the costs will be added on to the final price of meat on the market.