Ukrainian farmers call for ban on cheap meat imports
The Ukranian Union of Poultry Farmers recently sent an open letter to the Prime Minister of Ukraine Nicolai Azarov, Minister of Agricultural and Food Policy Nicolai Prysiazhniuk and the chairman of Parliament, demanding that the government introduces measures to protect domestic producers.
It proposed a complete ban on the import of mechanical dissection, trimmings, carcases, offal and all other low-grade meat, no matter what country it was produced in. The Union said this would help prevent further deterioration of the domestic industry.
There has been an unprecedented growth in imports to Ukraine in the first six month of the year. According to official statistics, pork imports increased 2.5 times to 101,000 tonnes (t) in the first half of 2012, while poultry meat imports almost doubled, to around 50,000t.
Experts say the large volume of imports is possible because manufacturers can not compete with dumping prices from Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and Brazil.
“About 70% of imports are very poor quality – it is meat with a lot of fat, by-products and offal that have low nutritional value. Such products are sold at dumping prices – at US$1-US$2/kg. Processing enterprises are making a profit by buying it, but the local producers lose the opportunity to sell their products,” said a representative of the Ukrainian Agrarian Club (UAC).
Currently, the average price of Ukraine meat ranges from US$4.25/kg to US$4.30/kg.
UAC chairman Alexander Yaroslavsky warned that Ukrainian producers have been walking on a “knife blade” in the last few months, and there was very little chance for the situation to change by the end of the year. The crisis has led to a sharp fall in the Ukrainian pig herd, with the number of pigs falling by 6%, or 462,000 in the first five months of the year and continuing to decline rapidly.
“The main impact from this situation will be felt by the private sector, which accounts for 40% of the total pig stock in the country,” said Yaroslavsky.