Russia limits poultry trade as bird flu spreads

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Russia exported over 100,000 tonnes of poultry meat last year
Russia exported over 100,000 tonnes of poultry meat last year

Related tags European union Russia Livestock Poultry

Russia’s veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor has prohibited poultry exports from six regions, where highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI) has been detected.

On 18 May, the regulator said the measures were necessary for Russia, as a poultry exporter, to keep its “AI-free status​”, noting that restrictions would apply to products not only manufactured in the affected regions, but also moving through them.

Rosselkhoznadzor has also banned exports of all poultry products to the European Union (EU), excluding only heat-treated by-products.

Russia’s watchdog restricted export supplies from Moscow Oblast, where a large number of outbreaks has been reported in the past few months,​ as well as from Kalmykia, Krasnodar Krai, Astrakhan Oblast, Rostov Oblast and the Chechen Republic.

However, surprisingly, the veterinary body did not ban exports of poultry meat from the Republic of Tatarstan​, where several outbreaks were reported in May, including one at an industrial farm.

Tatarstan is considered the most disadvantaged region when it comes to AI and Rosselkhoznadzor was not available for comment as to why this region was not subjected to the export restrictions.

No further supplies of turkey

AI-related export restrictions could also affect Russia’s turkey producers. In 2016, Russia’s turkey manufacturers boosted exports sixfold compared to 2015, to 3,000 tonnes (t), also claiming part of the duty-free quota for supplies to the EU.

In particular, last year, Russia’s turkey manufacturer Krasnobor delivered its first batches of turkey to the Netherlands and Ireland, although the company’s director, Sergey Kokorin, believed the fluctuations of the Russian rouble would made exports to the EU less attractive this year.

According to Albert Davleyev, head of Russian consulting agency Agrifood Strategies, last year, domestic turkey exporters also delivered some product batches to Italy, while supplies were also exported to Serbia and Switzerland.

Davleyev said that, this year, European importers were willing to purchase even more turkey, as long as it was price-competitive and had good quality. However, export plans were marred several months ago by the outbreak of AI in Astrakhan Oblast.

Rosselkhoznadzor’s restrictions will also affect the country’s largest turkey manufacturer, Eurodon​, which operates several turkey farms in Rostov Oblast. In 2016, the company revealed export plans to deliver halal turkey to Muslim countries, including Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

Exports of chicken also at stake?

Meanwhile, it is not yet known how the restrictions will affect exports of chicken. One of Russia’s largest meat exporters, agricultural holding Cherkizovo​, reported that two of the company’s poultry farms in Moscow Oblast were affected by restrictions. But according to the company’s representatives, these farms were not actually supplying poultry for export.

In 2016, Russia exported 100,000t of poultry meat, with more than 95% accounted for by chicken. However, the majority of the supplies went to traditional trade partners in the CIS region, as well as to the rebel republics in eastern Ukraine, which have no other alternative for purchasing poultry products. So it seems unlikely that recent restrictions will affect the country’s chicken exports to any great extent.

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