Russia enforces US and Canadian chilled meat ban

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Last year, Russia purchased only 2.8% of its total imports of chilled beef from the US
Last year, Russia purchased only 2.8% of its total imports of chilled beef from the US
Russia has banned the import of chilled meat from the US and Canada, claiming the countries have continued to ship meat with traces of the veterinary drug ractopamine.

Alexei Alexeyenko, spokesperson for Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, said the ban would come into effect from 4 February 2013, with a similar ban to be imposed on frozen meat from the two countries from 11 February 2013.

Canada has claimed it will meet Russia’s ractopamine requirements from 28 February, but Rosselkhoznadzor said the ban would be implemented in the meantime, with veterinary authorities reconsidering the issue after that date. It added that the US had not yet provided any such guarantees.

“The Canadian side informed us it was ready to fulfill our requirements for ractopamine, starting from 28 February this year, but since we have not seen the specification of these intentions, we warned them that, from 11 February 11 to 28 February, shipments of [frozen] meat to Russia must be stopped,”​ said Sergei Dankvert, head of Rosselkhoznadzor, at a recent press conference.

Impact on supply

Experts said the ban on the import of chilled meat from the US and Canada would not lead to any problems on the Russian market due to the insignificance of the volumes supplied. However, they warned that restrictions on the import of frozen meat from North America could cause a real shortage, with at least a temporary deficit on frozen beef and pork.

In the contrast the frozen meat from North America is very important for the Russian market, and its absence could lead to at least temporary deficit of these types of products.

“Last year, Russia has purchased only 2.8% of its total imports of chilled beef from the US. This is quite a specific product, which is sold only in the ‘expensive’ stores at a very high price – RUB1,800 (US$60) per kilogram. Also, American chilled beef often comes in restaurants where people can eat it as a steak for RUB1,500 (US$50). Canadian supplies of chilled beef to Russia are also insignificant – it accounts for only 1% of total imports. It is delivered mostly for steak houses. We do not import chilled pork from the US and Canada,”​ explained the head of the executive committee of the Russian National Meat Association Sergey Yushin.

“As for US frozen meat, its share of the market is really significant. In particular, frozen beef from the US accounts for 7.7% of total imports of these products. Import of frozen pork from Canada is equivalent to 25% of total imports, and the supply of frozen pork from the US is only slightly less. All together this is quite significant. And after the ban, Russian importers will find it difficult to replace these volumes quickly. Brazil and the European Union may become alternatives to the ‘closed’ countries. But many Brazilian companies have also been banned over ractopamine fears, while European products are expensive.”

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