The country increased its pork production by 7.8% to 1.45 million tonnes (mt) in January-August 2015 compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, poultry production in the same period rose 10.6% to 2.8mt, according to data from Russia’s State Statistics Service.
Russia’s agriculture minister Alexander Tkachev estimated that, by the end of the year, the country would reach 90% self-sufficiency in poultry and pork, matching the targets laid down in its national Food Security Doctrine. Moreover, government representatives promised that, next year, overall support for the country’s agriculture industry would amount to RUB237 billion (US$3.8bn) – almost the same level as this year.
Drop in beef production
Meanwhile, data from the State Statistics Service’s report indicated that the country is continuing to see a drop in beef production. As of 1 July, the cattle herd in Russia totalled 20.4 million head, 1.7% lower than at the same date last year. The total volume of beef production in the country during January-August amounted to 616,800t, which is 1.1% lower year-on-year.
Market participants claimed that Russia had reduced its dependence on beef imports from 40% to 25% over recent years, but that the situation in the beef sector differed from other meat industry segments.
“If we talk about the situation prior to the embargo and the economic crisis, we were dependent on about 40% of beef imports,” commented Denis Cherkesov, executive director of Russia’s National Union of Beef Producers. “Given the situation with dollar [devaluation of the Russian rouble] we have now reduced imports by around 30%, so our level of self-sufficiency is 75%, but consumption has decreased, and all types of meat imports have declined. The rise in self-sufficiency would be a good indicator if consumption had remained at the same level.”
State may constrain growth
Authorities fear an overproduction crisis. However, as the country has huge opportunities to increase meat production, but lacks markets in which to sell it, according to Yevgeny Savchenko, governor of Belgorod Oblast, which accounts for nearly 30% of all pork produced in the country, the growth potential is huge.
“Without taking into account consumption, the country could produce 10-12mt of poultry meat per year, about 8-10mt of pork and about 3-4mt of beef,” he said. “So, in about seven years the country could reach a level of meat production amounting to 20-25mt.”
“The state could allow limitless meat production in future if there were guaranteed export markets, but these are lacking and hard to establish,” he added. “If there are no export outlets in future, then we need a clear signal to that effect, as the state should then introduce quotas on meat production, limiting it in similar fashion to the methods used in the US and the EU.”