Russian meat industry shrugs off risk of EU/US sanctions

By Eugene Vorotnikov, in Voronez

- Last updated on GMT

Russian government admits poultry expansion plan has been shelved
Russian government admits poultry expansion plan has been shelved

Related tags Russia European union Meat Beef Pork Poultry

The Russian government has shrugged off the risk posed by possible economic sanctions from the US and European Union (EU) over the Ukraine crisis, but admitted that a poultry export expansion plan has been shelved.

In comments sent to GlobalMeatNews​, Nikolai Fyodorov, Russia’s agriculture minister said: "At present the majority of Russian meat production is supplied to the domestic market, while the share of exports in the overall production structure remains small. Of these, export supplies to the EU and the US markets remain insignificant."

He added that sanctions would probably cause the most damage to the national poultry industry, which would be prevented from implementing Agriculture Ministry plans announced earlier this year to double exports from the 51,000 tonnes (t) sold overseas in 2013 to 100,000t in 2014.

That said, efforts to boost Russian poultry exports would continue and be focused more on south-east Asia, which already accounts for a majority of overseas sales, said Fyodorov. At the same time, the volume of exports still remains small compared to production, which reached 3.8 million tonnes (mt) in 2013, up 5.5% on 2012.

Also, Fyodorov predicted that Russian meat exports to the EU would probably fall as a number of export contracts with EU countries would be revised. Any sanctions on Russian poultry exports to the EU and the US could also result in mirrored sanctions by the Russian government, which would mainly impact American poultry exporters, said the minister.

Meanwhile, Moushegh Mamikonian, chairman of the Russian Meat Union, told GlobalMeatNews​, that his concerns were lessened by the low level of Russian pork and beef exports: "In the case of pork, last year exports were equivalent to just over US$5 million and were mainly directed to the countries of the [Eurasian Economic Community] Customs Union of Kazakhstan and Belarus."

However, a Russian Meat Union spokesperson added that the Russian government had been mulling plans to increase pork exports to Europe following a sharp rise in production last year (2013) to 3.2mt. But as with the poultry export plan, sanctions have prompted the government to abandon this idea and focus on the domestic market. Mamikonian also added that, in the case of beef, Russia had no European export plans as there was insufficient local production even to satisfy the domestic market.

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