Russian export strategy shifts east

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Russia is set to focus on exporting meat to Asia
Russia is set to focus on exporting meat to Asia

Related tags Russia Pork Poultry

Russia is to focus on exporting meat primarily to Asian countries in the next few years, according to the country’s Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev. He estimates that, in two to three years, Russia will export 200,000 tonnes (t) annually to the Asia-Pacific region, primarily poultry and pork.

Tkachev believes that, given the current circumstances, it is impossible for Russia to export the same amount of meat westwards – in other words to the European Union (EU).

“In fact, European markets have never anticipated our products. We clearly understand that it doesn’t matter how much they [EU officials] invite us to do so, they will not let us in, due to a number of reasons, including political factors. [Supply to] Asia is more realistic,”​ he said.

To facilitate an increase in export supplies, Russia will need to devote up to 10 million hectares of agricultural land to the industry, primarily in the far east of Russia, bordering China.

“In the far east there are already about 5.5 million hectares of farmland available and the Asia-Pacific region is home to about 40% of the world’s population. It is a huge market that is necessary to saturate,”​ said Tkachev.

The Minister’s view has received the support of Sergei Dankvert, head of Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor. According to Dankvert, Russia is ready to agree starting supplies of meat products to a number of Asian countries, including China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

“We are primarily targeting exports of meat joints that have less demand on the domestic market, including certain chicken sections, such as legs and scallops,”​ he said.

“The main Russian [meat] producers are already expressing an interest in the markets of Asia and Africa, as well as some countries in Europe and America. And the geography of potential importers is constantly growing,”​ said Rosselkhoznadzor.

This year Russia may nearly double its meat export volumes, according to forecasts from the Agriculture Ministry. Among other things, export development will be supported by the collapse of the Russian rouble, which has dropped nearly twofold against the dollar and the euro since the beginning of last year.

“Amid the devaluation [of the Russian rouble] – and we will feel its effect in the next three years – it is necessary to increase exports. Exports of poultry meat this year will amount to at least 100,000t and will continue to grow in future with the majority of exports directed at south-east Asia,”​ said Anatoly Kutsenko, director of the Agriculture Ministry’s department of economics and state support for agribusiness.

In 2014 Russia exported about 57,000t of chicken meat, according to the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies. This is 5% more than in 2013. The main buyers of Russian poultry products were Hong Kong and Vietnam, which increased purchases by 45% and doubled, respectively.

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