Russia pushes for new regional Halal exports

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Middle east, Saudi arabia, United arab emirates

Russia pushes for new regional Halal exports
Russia’s Halal industry is working to grow its exports to the Middle East, as the country signs a meat-for-grain deal with Iran, and Belarus is set to start UAE beef shipments.

At the sixth annual Moscow Halal Expo last week, the focus was on developing better business-to-business links, particularly with potential buyers in foreign markets. Qatar’s ambassador to Russia, Saoud Bin Abdallah Al Mahmoud, told delegates in a speech that Qatari investors are very interested in Russia’s Halal food industry, but do not have enough information on the sector.

Russia and Qatar are currently in the process of finalising a trade deal for Halal poultry​. The agreement, which is expected to be completed within the next few months, would be the first export deal for Halal poultry in some years.

The Moscow Halal Expo saw around 200 exhibitors attend, with representation from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, among other Middle Eastern countries. Along with topics such as Halal food production and Islamic finance, the conference also discussed measures to increase Halal tourist visits to Russia, with the Middle East seen as a key potential market.

Following its conflict with Ukraine, and the imposition of sanctions which have effectively halted Russia’s food trade with Europe, the country has been working hard to establish new markets for its agricultural production. Along with India and China, the Middle East has become an increasing focus for Russian exporters.

Iranian barter deal

But a deal with Iran would see a reversal in the flow of meat, with six Iranian producers of poultry and dairy products given permission in principle to export their products to Russia, in exchange for grain, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosty. The barter deal would allow both countries to avoid repercussions from the various sanctions applied against them.

The deal follows visits last month by Russian agriculture ministry officials to Iranian dairy and meat producers. Following the visit, two poultry producers and four dairy firms were given approval to start exports, pending the finalisation of specific Russian export requirements.

Belarus beef exports

In Belarus, a close ally to Russia, meat producer GMK is preparing to ship its first batch of beef to the UAE in the coming months, under a new deal with the GCC country’s authorities, following a final audit this month. The trade, which will be via Rastelli Foods Group, will start with a single shipment, and then depend on demand, according to Belarusian news agency BeITA.

We plan to start with the Grodno meat-packing plant [GMK]. Later on we will involve other enterprises in selling merchandise on the Middle East market​,” said Alexei Bogdanov, head of the central office for foreign economic activities at the Belarusian Agriculture and Food Ministry.

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