The development of a plant designed to produce 30 tonnes (t) of venison a year has begun by the business, which owns herds comprised of 11,000 reindeer.
“Previously we cut and packaged only fresh-frozen meat,” said chief production manager of the company Igor Kima. “With the launching of the plant we will be able to start the production of different types of sausages from reindeer.
“We will produce vacuum-packaged venison meat. We also aim to launch a canning line and start the production of canned stewed meat this winter.”
This year the company plans to supply products to retail chains of the Kamchatka Autonomous Region. However, it is also scheduled to distribute the first supplies of meat to other parts of Russia. The factory’s managers are not ruling out export supplies either.
“In the times of the Soviet Union we [venison producers of Russian Far East] supplied annually about 20t of venison to the French market,” added Kima.
Regional administrators have already started work on legislation regarding reindeer herding, which is designed to support venison producers in the region.
One of biggest producers
According to deputy minister of agriculture for Kamchatka Igor Ermakov, the region is one the biggest producers of venison in the country, supporting 44,000 reindeer - 6% more than in 2014.
“The targets [of the regional government] are to bring this number to 46,000 by 2017 and to 52,000 by 2020,” he stated.
However, according to the member of the parliament of the region Roman Granatov, reindeer breeding in the country has been hampered by the tough climate conditions. The industry also suffers from a lack of qualified employees.
The biggest reindeer-producing area in Russia is the Yamal Region, with local company Yamal Reindeer the major player. According to the first deputy governor of the Yamal Alexei Sitnikov last year the region exported 400t of venison.
“About 250t has been supplied to Finland, despite the fact that local customers are willing to buy buy twice as much meat,” Sitnikov said. “Also last year the first batches of products went to Bulgaria and China.”
He added that the target for this year was to increase venison production by 20% to 2,500t. “This figure will be achieved despite the fact that we lost 70,000 heads of reindeers due to the lack of pastural feeding,” he claimed, citing figures from the region’s agricultural department.
Local authorities admit that future growth is limited by grazing problems, as pastures in Yamal will currently only feed 300,000 reindeers, while the herd is estimated to number about 700,000.