Most forecasts predict the situation will stay the same for the rest of 2016 and possibly in to 2017, as the economic crisis in the region continues to take its toll.
The size of the meat market in Russia reached a peak of 10.8m tonnes in 2013, compare with only 8.1m tonnes in 2006, with demand for meat products growing 7-9% as the wealth of the average Russian citizen increased during this period.
However, according to data supplied by the Eurasia Economic Union’s (EEU) Meat Council, it decreased to 10.6m tonnes in 2014 and 10.3m tonnes in 2015.
Russians lacks income
Chairman of the EEU Meat Council, Musheg Mamikonyan, suggests that it may drop below 10m tonnes in the foreseeable future. Per capita meat consumption in Russia has grown from 42kg in 1998 to 76kg in 2013. However, in 2016 it is estimated at 68kg.
Sergei Ushin, head of the National Meat Union, said the main reason for the drop in meat consumption is the fall of real incomes of the population.
“People simply have no incomes, so they are saving money on meat,” he explained. “More than 20 million people in Russia are living below the poverty threshold, so even 70 kg per capita is a very good indicator.”
Meat consumption unstable
A similar situation pertains in Ukraine, where demand for poultry has dropped from 24.8kg per capita to 23.5–24kg. Demand for pork also dropped by 2.3kg and for beef by about 1kg, according to estimates by the head of Ukraine’s Union of Poultry Breeders (UPB), Sergei Karpenko.
Meanwhile, local experts indicate that over the past year consumption of meat was also unstable in other former Soviet Union countries, including Belarus, where average citizens consumed 72kg of meat, Kazakhstan (62.5kg), Uzbekistan (25.8kg) and Tajikistan with 12.8%.
“The economic crisis in Russia has had a big impact on neighbours, with falling incomes causing people to cut their spending on meat and meat products,” commented agricultural analyst Eugene Gerden.
“Most currencies of former Soviet Union countries have experienced devaluation over the past two years, which has pushed meat prices up and made citizens less wealthy. As the result, demand for pork and beef is falling, while demand for poultry is slightly rising in some countries.”
Gerden pointed out that in the countries of the Asian part of the region, the figures do not indicate the real state of meat consumption; due to the large gap in social differentiation in Kazakhstan in particular, 10-15% of the wealthiest part of population consumes nearly three times more meat than the less well off. As the economic crisis contuinues, this gap is likely to increase, he said.