Rosselkhoznadzor banned produce from the country following tests that found the muscle growth stimulant ractopamine, which is prohibited in Russia. The ban comes into effect on 1 December.
Brazil: Russia’s biggest pork supplier
In a statement, Rosselkhoznadzor argued that despite the size of the trade, an import ban would not harm the Russian meat market. However, domestic producers would have to pick up the slack in the short term, and this could be a problem for beef. According to estimates from the Russian National Meat Association (NMA), which represents Russia’s leading meat producers, between January-September 2017, Brazil accounted for more than 90% of total pork imports to Russia and 60-65% of beef imports.
NMA head Sergei Yushin told Russian language business paper Kommersant that the withdrawal of Brazil from the Russian pork market would not increase prices as, in the last two months, they have fallen by 15%-18% to RUB135-RUB145 (US$2- US$3) per kg, but the effect could be much more serious in the case of beef.
Yushin said developments in the beef market would depend on the ability of alternative suppliers, such as those in Belarus, to replace beef importers from Brazil in the Russian market. With Russia already banning imports from major western suppliers such as the US, Canada and the European Union (EU) over the tit-for-tat sanctions stand-off following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and support for pro-Russian Ukraine separatists, the number of potential exporters is limited. Also, Russia has taken action to protect its consumers from ractopamine before - for instance, banning Canadian pork for this reason in 2010.
An official at Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture said he believed the introduction of a ban on Brazilian meat imports would stimulate domestic pork and beef production because prices might rise. Ministry statistics indicated the average price of imported beef between January-May 2017 was already more than US$3,700 per tonne. This is almost 22% more than in 2016, the department official said.