Russia eyes meat exports to the EU despite veterinary problems

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Breaking administrative barriers in the EU and China could hike up Russian meat exports
Breaking administrative barriers in the EU and China could hike up Russian meat exports
By initiating meat supplies to the European Union (EU) and China, Russia could increase its total meat exports from 300,000 tonnes (t) in 2017 to 1 million t in 2023, Alexey Gordeyev, deputy chairman of the Russian Government has claimed.

Speaking during a working trip to the Tver region, Gordeyev said that, to reach that goal, the Russian meat industry needed to break through administrative barriers in both the EU and China, adding that the Russian federal government was putting a lot of effort into doing just that.

Not safe meat

Russia’s National Meat Association (NMA) has said it expects Russia to boost meat exports to 1 million t per year by 2024. However, major factors constraining Russian meat exports include veterinary issues, such as ongoing outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) and avian influenza (AI), Sergey Yushin, chairman of NMA, told GlobalMeatNews​ earlier.

The EU banned imports of poultry from Russia on 16 July, following several AI outbreaks registered in the central and southern regions of the country. Belarus and Kazakhstan have also introduced import restrictions. Those measures may negatively affect Russia’s poultry exports, as 18 companies in the country have been authorised to export poultry to the EU, while Kazakhstan was the biggest importer of Russian chicken.

Meanwhile, Russia registered two outbreaks of ASF on commercial pig farms​ in July. In response, Gordeyev said the government could revise its legislation and introduce fines on pig processors that allowed ASF outbreaks to occur in their production facilities.

Exporting by-products 

However, the 2017 export volumes quoted by Gordeyev covered not only meat, but also by-products, Albert Davleyev, president of consulting agency Agrifood Strategies told GlobalMeatNews.​ These included offal and a wide variety of other items, such as skin, fat, trotters, wing tips, legs, snouts, tails and ears.

“The bulk of [meat] export volumes from Russia so far comprise by-products, while the ‘real meat’ share is still low,” said Davleyev.

Russia is targeting these at markets in the Middle East, south-east Asia and Africa, but the majority of its products are exported to the neighbouring countries and regions of Kazakhstan, Eastern Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Abkhazia, according to Davleyev.

“A considerable share of Russian beef, pork and poultry by-products are purchased by local traders in south-east Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa for onward shipment,” he said.

Russian consulting agency Petrova Five Consulting told local news outlet Provaed​ that the country could boost exports of by-products to China by nearly 10-fold from 30,000t, worth $52 million in 2017, to nearly 300,000 tonnes, worth $520m by 2023. In doing so, Russia could take advantage of the trade war between China and the US, which has limited trade in by-products between the two countries.

In the meantime, Russian experts believe it would be more difficult for the Russian meat industry to succeed in the EU.

“In Europe, Russian meat exports are facing two major challenges: the European Commission’s refusal to recognise regionalisation and compartmentalisation of Russian territory when it comes to animal disease; and prohibitively high import tariffs, along with one of the most stringent quota systems in the world,” Davleyev said. 


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