The main driver of growth in the industry was cited as the rapid reduction in imports, which is taking place due to the food embargo implemented by the country’s authorities in August 2014.
According to official statistics from the Russian Federal Customs Service, in the first quarter the country experienced a 1.9-fold drop in the value of meat imports from non-CIS countries to US$156.3 million. In volume terms, the data for the first quarter of 2015 is not yet available, but in January-February the country saw imports decrease by 62% or 73,900t compared to the same period last year, according to official data.
"Due to growth in [meat industry] production volumes, the level of self-sufficiency in the domestic meat market rose from 77% to 82%, with a target level of 90% set by the state food security program. In particular segments, replacing imports is happening even faster than expected," said Deputy Agriculture Minister Dmitry Yuriev.
The strongest increase during this period was seen in the poultry industry, where 1.2 million tonnes (mt) were produced – a rise of 11.4% or 151,200t more than last year. "In general, Russia has retained a positive dynamic in terms of the volumes of poultry produced by our agricultural organisations," said Vladimir Labinov, head of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Breeding at the Ministry of Agriculture.
The country also increased the production of pork to 708,300t, which is 59,800t or 8.7% more than in the first quarter of 2014. The volume of beef products amounted to 322,000t, up 2.7% or 8,400t more than in the same period in 2014. This is considered an important milestone, as beef production in the country has only just started to grow again, following a near five-year decline.
"The meat market is currently undergoing a completely changed reality, which both government and businesses have not yet fully understood," said head of the Russian Meat Union Mushegh Mamikonian. "There is no need to attack imports any more – as they have almost stopped and are not expected to be restored in the foreseeable future. The main risks now are a reduction in demand and a critical dependence on the imports of capital goods from Western countries, including genetics, technology, equipment and veterinary medicines."
The Russian Meat Union expects that, in 2015, the volume of meat products in the country will grow to 9.15mt, from 8.7mt last year, while imports should reduce by more than half – from 1.35mt, to 600,000t this year.
Meanwhile, head of the Russian National Meat Association Sergei Yushin forecast that, this year, the volume of meat consumption in the country will drop by 6% from 70kg per capita to about 66kg per capita. Last year meat consumption volumes had already dropped by 2%, as more than 40% of Russian citizens were forced to cut their spending on food products.