“The Japanese have expressed interest in a quick resolution of the formalities [to approve] exports of products, manufactured by this facility, to Japan. In particular, an agreement has been reached to complete work on the harmonisation of veterinary certificates in the near future,” said Rosselkhoznadzor.
According to the Russian veterinary body, Japan veterinary inspectors visited several meat production facilities in Russia’s far eastern region, in particular Primorsk Krai, on 1-3 December. In addition to imports of beef, Japan is also considering establishing imports of heat-treated poultry meat and feed products, Rosselkhoznadzor added.
Export potential indicated
Russian agricultural holding Miratorg has previously revealed plans to establish meat exports to Asia, citing Japan and South Korea as possible destinations. However, the company’s press-secretary Dmitry Sergeev told GlobalMeatNews that, at the moment, Miratorg was not commenting on any potential approval of exports to Japan.
Russian officials remain relatively optimistic about the possibility of meat exports to Japan. Sergei Egorov, head trade representative of the Russian Federation in Tokyo, said Japan was interested in Russian poultry and pork, as the manufacturing costs for these types of meat in Russia were lower, due to cheaper feed.
He also claimed that Russia would probably not be able to compete with Brazil in terms of frozen meat exports to Japan. However, he said Russia was probably the only country, apart from China, which was able to establish supplies of chilled poultry and pork to the country, due to the geographic proximity of production facilities.
Specific quality parameters
Russian experts believe, however, that the country’s meat manufacturers are likely to face some challenges in Japan – mainly due to the specific quality requirements of the market there.
“Japan is known to be the biggest, but also the most unpredictable meat market, with very specific quality parameters. It is necessary to be competitive not only on price, but mostly on quality to penetrate the Japanese market,” Dmitry Rylko, general director of Russia’s Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR), told GlobalMeatNews.
“In principle, Russian suppliers will eventually be able to do it, but it requires political will on both sides and long-term cooperation, as it is unlikely that someone would decide to rebuild animal management and feeding technologies in Russia to suit the [needs of this] strange and unpredictable market,” Rylko added.
Mutual trade deal
Despite the introduction of sanctions against Russia in 2014, Japan has not been subjected to a food embargo, so still exports small amounts of meat to Russia. In January-February 2016, the volume of Japanese meat exports to Russia rose by 50% year on year, said Egorov, although he did not disclose precise figures.
In a press release published last month Rosselkhoznadzor said negotiations on meat trade with Japan were mutual, so Russia was also considering increasing the number of authorised suppliers from Japan which could deliver meat to the country.