Pork imports slumped more than fourfold to 36,300t, from 147,700t imported into Russia during the first half of 2017, the FCS estimated. Meanwhile, poultry imports dropped to 32,800t, from 52,600t in the previous year, while beef imports reduced slightly to 134,400t, from 152,600t in the first half of 2017, the FCS informed.
The decrease in meat imports was primarily associated with restrictions entered against Brazil by Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor in November 2017. Brazil had been exporting an average of 22,000t of pork and 12,000t of beef per month to the Russian market, according to estimates from the Russian State Statistics Service (Rosstat).
Prior to these restrictions, Brazil accounted for 90% of the pork imported by Russia, added Rosstat.
Food embargo extended
Meat imports to Russia have been falling steadily since their peak of 2.7 million tonnes in 2011. This trend accelerated with the introduction of the so-called food embargo by the Russian Government in August 2014, which banned imports of meat from the European Union, the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and several other countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended the food embargo until 31 December 2019, in a decree posted on the President’s website on 12 July.
Speaking at a press conference in Moscow earlier this year, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, said that Russia had to extend the food embargo in view of the sanctions against Russia extended by the European Union and other countries.
Top government officials in Russia have claimed repeatedly that the food embargo was designed not only as a response to the Western sanctions, but also as measure to support the country’s domestic meat industry.
A net exporter
Sergey Yushin, chairman of Russia’s National Meat Association (NMA), commented that imports were falling in 2018 on a background of rising competition in the Russian meat industry. He noted that the country’s meat industry was currently very strong, so imported products from countries not subject to any trade restrictions were no longer competitive on the Russian market.
Diana Nizovtseva, NMA’s senior analyst, forecast that meat exports from Russia could exceed 400,000t this year. If that were to happen, along with a further reduction in meat imports, Russia could become a net exporter of meat products for the first time in its history.
Russia exported 107,300t of meat and meat products during the first half of 2018, up 29% compared to the same period in 2017, the FCS said in its statement.