The Russian ban on European pig imports forced Estonian producers to cut prices by 20% in April.
As a result of the overproduction generated by the ban, purchasing prices for pork dropped from €1.1 (US$1.45) per kg liveweight at the beginning of the year to €0.85 (US$1.12) per kg in April. Before the ban, producers could sell pigs to Russia for up to €1.50 (US$1.98) per kg.
“Today the problem is not only in pig production itself, but also in prices, which dropped by nearly 20% because of the ban. This means that the average pig farm receives less than €25,000 (US$33,070) of monthly income. A partial way out is to sell pigs to Latvia and Lithuania, where prices are slightly higher. But if the ban is not cancelled, then in the situation of unequal distribution of subsidies and competition on the domestic (meat) market will become impossible. This means that local (pork) producers will lose the fight on the domestic market (to the manufacturers of other types of meat),” said the head of large agro-industrial complex Tartu Agro, Aavo Melder.
However, retailers have not reflected the drop in prices for producers, and the average cost of pork in supermarkets has not decreased at all, resulting in a massive profit for the retail industry.
The recent meeting between representatives of the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) and of the EU, which took place on 24 April, did not lead to any result. Russian officials continue to hold the ground. Local farmers say that they can only hope that changes in the Russian government, scheduled in May this year, and Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization, will help the situation.
Meanwhile, Estonia is the only Baltic country to have joined the Russian list of EU member states from which livestock products were imported in violation of the ban. According to Russian officials, the last Estonian inspection on 6 March revealed a variety of disorders. Head of the Estonian department of veterinary and food Ago Pyartel said: “In particular, the statement notes that some Russian laboratory found salmonellosis in some pigs imported from Estonia. But at the same time in Estonia, none of the local laboratories found it in pork shipments.”
According to the head of the import and export agency of the Veterinary and Food Department of Estonia, Regina Pihlakas, last year 211,000 out of the 364,000 pigs produced in the country were sold to Russia. The EU Statistical Services estimate that Russia’s ban on live pig imports will cost the European economy €75m (US$99.2m) per year, with Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia accounting for 90% of the losses. It could cost Estonia €25m (US$33.0m) per year.