According to the Federal Statistics Service of Russia (Rosstat), last year saw Australian beef exports gradually losing the fight against supplies from the US – Australia’s main competitor on the Russian market. As a result, exports of Australian beef (chilled and frozen) to Russia fell by 39% year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2012, to 30,989 tonnes. During the same period, US beef exports to Russia increased by 21%.
“The favourable exchange rate in Brazil, the availability of cheap products from Paraguay and high prices for Australian beef have also contributed to the decline in the price competitiveness of Australian frozen beef in the Russian market,” said a source in Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture.
However, experts at the Russian analytical agency Agrorucom reported that recently-imposed Russian import restrictions could provide a boost to Australian exports.
“Reports that Russia will seek to ban all imports of US beef containing residues of feed additive ractopamine will certainly create huge opportunities for Australian suppliers, who can solve the problem of a potential shortage of beef in the Russian market due to absence of the products from the US,” they said.
“If the ban is not lifted very soon, which is not expected, the supply of beef from the US could fall by 70-80%, meaning that Australian exporters will be able to supply the Russian market with about 50,000 tonnes of beef, thus increasing the level of 2012 by more than 1.5 times.”
The source in the Ministry of Agriculture agreed that the opportunities for Australian chilled beef in the Russian market in 2013 were “really significant”.
“The potential for expanding supplies really exists, because Russia has been also expanding its quota to supply chilled beef by 11 times, from 1,000 tonnes in 2012 to 11,000 tonnes in 2013,” they said.