Speaking at the organisation’s recent export conference, Eblex export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier said that no meat had been exported to Russia since the market was opened to UK beef and lamb last November. He added that only two abattoirs and cutting plants had been approved for export by Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, with no cold stores approved yet.
Additionally, Garnier said that UK companies had been told they could not export offal or bone-in lamb to the Russian market, which Eblex had been unaware of when the deal was struck last year. He added that offal, in particular, was a “key product” for export to Russia, due to the high demand for ox livers, hearts, and tongues in the country.
Garnier said Eblex would shortly be sending a letter to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, calling on ministers to organise an urgent high-level mission to Russia, including UK chief veterinary officer (CVO) Nigel Gibbens.
“We are making a call to Defra to send the CVO to Russia as soon as possible to sort out these issues, and not let them drag on. Things have to be taken seriously and urgently by government in order to address the situation,” he said.
The Russian market, which has shortages of beef and lamb and high prices to encourage the development of local agriculture, is a potentially lucrative one for UK exporters, delegates were told. “I don’t think we can afford not to sell meat to Russia,” said Garnier.
Eblex sector director Nick Allen said that resolving the problems in the Russian market and improving access for UK meat exporters was a “top priority” for his organisation.