Russia restricts transit of US poultry over bird flu fears

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

The transit ban includes poultry meat and products
The transit ban includes poultry meat and products

Related tags Kazakhstan Meat Russia Livestock Poultry

Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor has banned transit of US poultry, including poultry meat and products, on its territory over concerns about bird flu, according to the head of the organisation Sergey Dankvert.

The decision could hit distribution of US chicken to Kazakhstan, but may also affect supply channels to Asia.

"This decision is connected with the fact that the virus of avian influenza (AI) is currently spreading in US and we have the information that American production transited to other countries is returning to our market,"​ commented Dankvert, adding that a number of business are using this way to bypass the food embargo.

Rosselkhoznadzor previously reported that it found US poultry in Siberia and meat production has been re-exported from Kazakhstan. According to Dankvert, Russian authorities are still not clear how to deal with the issue of re-export as Kazakhstan and Belarus have not supported Russian import restrictions against the US and European Union (EU).

"Prohibited production came to our market, as we caught the shipments in numerous Russian regions, primarily in Siberia,"​ stated Dankvert. Between January and May of this year Kazakhstan imported 24,000 tonnes of poultry from the US and Rosselkhoznadzor believes that a significant part of this production has been supplied to Russia.

Press-secretary of Rosselkhoznadzor Julia Trofimova said that in the short-term Rosselkhoznadzor will discuss the situation with Kazakhstan’s authorities to develop a joint approach. However, Danvert has suggested that if there was no agreement, Russia may restrict imports of Kazakhstan’s poultry.

"In addition, Kazakhstan has not joined the Russian actions in relation to the processing of poultry with the use of chlorine. In Russia, this method is not allowed, so American chicken meat in any form from Kazakhstan should not be delivered to Russia,"​ he said.

Rosselkhoznadzor’s decision will mostly affect US chicken exports to Kazakhstan, but experts suggested it would also affect the US’s ability to use the ports of the Russian Far East as a trans-shipment point for supplying Asia. 

"There is information that a number of US companies have been using Russian ports in the Far East, although the volume of supplies was not too big. Now, exporters will have to turn to other supply channels, which ultimately may increase the logistics costs,"​ commented Russian agricultural analyst Eugene Gerden.

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