The first batch of around 4,000 tonnes has been supplied to the Miratorg’s meat processing plant in Bryansk Oblast, Russia, where the company already processes other types of red meat. The sheep were grown at the pilot farm designed for 50,000 head at a time.
Miratorg plans to invest RUB27.5 billion ($480m) in lamb production between now and 2023, the company revealed in a statement in October 2018. In general, Miratorg wants to build 12 farms designed to keep 1.3 million head of sheep, and produce 71,200t of high-quality beef in slaughter weight per year.
The pilot farm is located in Kursk Oblast, Russia. The next two farms are slated to be built in the neighbouring Tula Oblast, in accordance with an investment agreement concluded between Miratorg and the regional government in 2018.
There had been some fears that Miratorg might not invest further in building the pilot farm, as demand for lamb in the Russian market is very limited. However, the company confirmed that the project’s expansion was already under way.
“We evidenced a strong demand among customers for this type of product and, in future, plan to open several other sheep-breeding farms in the Black Earth region. The expansion of the pilot project would increase both the economic and physical availability of this type of meat for Russian consumers, and would improve the export potential of Russia’s meat industry,” explained Viktor Linnik, president of Miratorg.
In 2018, Linnik said that export was an important part of the lamb project, with Miratorg planning to become the biggest lamb producer in Russia, despite the fact that, historically, lamb has not been very popular with Russian consumers. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, lamb consumption per capita in Russia was around 1.2kg in 2018. This meant overall sales on the domestic market were close to 174,000t per year.
Given the low demand on the domestic market, Miratorg plans to export nearly half of all the lamb it produces, Linnik said in 2018, not specifying when first export supplies might start.
Speaking at an industry conference in Moscow early February 2019, Yuri Kovalev, general director of the Russian National Union of Pork Producers, revealed that Russia had made a real breakthrough on lamb exports.
In general, Russia exported 288,500t of meat in 2018, up 21% compared to the same period the previous year. This included 12,400t of lamb – a groundbreaking figure, as in the previous year the country sold only 460t of lamb overseas, Kovalev said.
“This is enormous growth and this is especially important for the Russian meat industry, because lamb is an expensive type of meat,” Kovalev noted.