The Customs Union is introducing new simplified classifications for meat products, which analysts warn will decrease the quality of meat production in the region.
The standardised classifications, which have been brought in under recently approved technical regulations “on the safety of meat and meat products” divides processed meats into two groups – meat products and meat-containing products. The first category includes semi-finished products with more than 60% meat, while the second will include all products with a meat content of between 5% and 60%.
The previous classifications were more detailed, with eight categories of meat products depending on the meat content. Each category had a different price, with the most expensive ‘A’ category products having a meat content of 80-100%.
Meat processors in the region have welcomed the new rules. However, analysts have expressed serious concerns over the implications for the consumer.
Professor of food technology and product expertise at MSUTM, Nina Valentinova, told GlobalMeatNews.com: “Now ‘meat products’ may have a meat content of 60% or 100%. That is a very significant difference in cost and nutritional value.
"Manufacturers will try and make products at the minimum level and consumers will be misled. At the same time, products that only have 5% meat can be called ‘meat-containing products’. Again, it will be most profitable for processors to produce products close to the minimum meat content level.”
Most industry experts have a similar opinion. An analyst at the Russian agency Agrorucom told Globalmeatnews.com: “It will now be unprofitable to produce meat products with a 100% meat content. If, under the old classification system, the consumer was determining how much meat was in a product by basing it on the price, they will now no longer be able to do so.
"This means that meat products will only contain 61-62% of meat, while the remaining 38-39% will be made up with starch, soy, meat substitutes, and glutamate and other nutritional supplements, which are popular among Russian processors.”