The deal, which was finalised in Moscow yesterday by Russian deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich and UK Environment secretary Owen Paterson, brings an end to months of negotiations over technical issues related to the UK veterinary system and the inclusion of offal in an export deal.
It includes an agreement for UK meat processor ABP Dorset in Yetminster to supply lamb worth £7m to a Russian distributor, with more UK plants expected to gain approval for export of beef and lamb to Russia in the coming months.
Crucially, Russia has also agreed to allow beef offal imports from the UK, and Defra revealed that a £2m contract for beef offal was under discussion.
Speaking from Moscow, Paterson said: “I’m thrilled that our negotiations with Russia have proved successful. This is a credit to our vets and producers who have all worked amazingly hard to meet the required export standards. With the inclusion of offal as part of the deal, the gates of opportunity are now well and truly open for our meat industry.
“The progress we have made is testament to the high standards of production and traceability for which British products are famous. This deal is great news for farmers, exporters and the UK economy as a whole.”
Dvorkovich described the negotiations as “constructive” and signalled that Russia was keen to facilitate an improved export framework between the European Union and Customs Union.
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said Russia could prove a lucrative market for the UK, with Russian importers “keen to diversify their supply of prime lamb and quality grass-fed British beef”.
UK red meat levy body Eblex agreed the deal was important for UK industry. “We’re extremely pleased that this opportunity has opened up thanks to the close collaboration with Defra. It’s still early days in this new market and competition is high, but I’m keen that our industry grasps this opportunity with both hands,” said Eblex export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier.
Russia agreed to lift its BSE-related embargo on British beef and lamb in November 2012, but technical barriers have meant the market remained closed until now. Globalmeatnews.com revealed last month that the two countries were close to reaching a deal, following a meeting between UK chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens and the deputy head of the Russian veterinary office (Rosselkhoznadzor) Yevgeny Nepoklonov.