The Russian market is experiencing serious problems due to a deficit in some types of product and rising prices, but the situation is moving in the right direction, according to country’s minister of agriculture Nikolai Fyodorov.
Speaking at a conference on the development of dairy farming in Izhevsk, Fyodorov said: "We have been able to reduce imports of meat, due to the number of restrictions imposed by Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor on the use of synthetic growth simulators in meat. The World Trade Organisation is trying to get Russia to an international court for the introduction of these and some other restrictions. But so far nothing is lost; on the contrary, we are only winning [from this situation]."
Meat import volumes to Russia in the first half of 2014 amounted to 560,000 tonnes (t), according to Rosstat. Including pork, imports fell by 36.4% over the same period in 2013, to 169,300t, beef by 21% to 196,000t and poultry by 10.6% to 166,800t. Production rose to 4.6 million tonnes, up 4% or about 180,000t year-on-year.
Experts noted that the increase in production is associated with a temporary increase in slaughter, especially among small farmers who have responded to high prices for meat, as well as in connection with the new rules on meat processing, which in the first half of the year forced many small farmers to dispose of livestock.
Yet Fyodorov believed Russia was capable of boosting meat production volumes. "For greater production growth in the meat industry we must resolve all the problems of farms’ investment debt, so we can then breathe more easily and increase production," he said. "It is necessary to modernise and renovate, so that production can be stepped up."
New restrictions already implemented
However, it seems Russia is not going to stop implementing new restrictions on meat imports. Since 21 July, Rosselkhoznadzor has significantly tightened the rules on meat imports from third countries that have been delivered in transit through the European Union (EU).
These restrictions include any meat transported through the EU in vehicles and containers sealed in the exporting country – in other words the seal should not have been opened in the EU. In addition, the goods must be accompanied by the original veterinary certificate of the country of origin.
According to Rosselkhoznadzor, these actions have been taken to improve the effectiveness of measures aimed at preventing the import of pathogens and dangerous products of animal origin into Russia. "In this way we are trying to cut off the supply of counterfeit goods, which has risen to significant levels in recent times," said Alexei Alexeenko, assistant to the head of Rosselkhoznadzor.