Roman Korotenko, the head of agency on state reserves of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), stated that last year the region increased production of meat by about eight times, while production of milk and eggs rose by about 1.5–2 times.
Similar data has been reported by the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), where the Ministry of Economy Development estimated that production of sausages and meat in the first half of 2015 jumped eight times versus the same period of 2014.
The breakaway republics, neither of which have been officially recognised, are believed to have an overall population of about 3.8 million people. With average meat consumption per capita close to about 48.5kg, this makes the size of the regional market about 180,000 tonnes.
“We have some new facilities [in the meat sector] which had not been operating before the beginning of the war,” stated Korotenko. “One example is a pig-breeding farm in Roskoshniy [a village near Luhansk], which was a bare place, with only ruins. Now there is a workable, profitable facility which is working on food security issues of the republic.”
“The main problems in meat production are around pork and beef production,” complained Ruslan Sorokovenko, the LPR’s Minister of Agriculture and Food. “Part of the population [of agricultural animals] has been destroyed as a result of the fighting. With our current herd we will not be able to provide enough meat for the local market.”
Information on meat production and imports in the rebel republics is fragmentary. In November 2014, Ukraine began an economic blockade of the region, prohibiting any trade relationships with the rebels. As a result it was reported that areas not controlled by government troops were on the edge of a food shortage.
“There were real fears about food shortages, but the population has not actually felt it because, despite the blockade, products of both Russian and Ukraine origin can still be found on grocery shelves,” commented an unnamed representative of local grocery business. “More importantly, the Ukraine government also banned any payment of pensions to local citizens and blocked access to bank accounts – this is a much bigger problem.”
The economic blockade has brought many other negative impacts. According to some reports, the regional meat industry faces a shortage of feed and parent stock, especially in the poultry sector. Rebel leaders have promised that meat production and other relevant industries will be subsidised in future, in order to bring more stability to the market.