Russian poultry industry in trouble

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Avian influenza is among the factors for Russia's struggling poultry industry
Avian influenza is among the factors for Russia's struggling poultry industry

Related tags: Poultry

Growth rates in Russia’s poultry industry were the lowest for the past two decades in 2018, with several dozen companies going bankrupt due to avian influenza (AI), rising costs and extremely low profitability

In 2018, Russia manufactured 6.7 million tonnes (t) of poultry in live weight, 0.7% up on the previous year, according to Russia’s state statistical service Rosstat. This was the lowest growth rate for the past 20 years.

Moreover, in January 2019, poultry production in Russia shrank by 3.8% compared to the same month the previous year to 502,000t, Rosstat added.

Poultry production has been falling in Russia’s European region, including in the central federal district where it dropped by 4.6% against the previous year to 198,000t and in the southern federal district where it slumped by 32% to 37,000t, Rosstat added. The southern district was the region worst affected by the AI epidemic in 2018. 

In 2017, Russia registered 37 AI outbreaks, while in 2018 this figure jumped to 82. The epidemic has brought heavy financial losses to many major poultry producers, including major Russian turkey manufacturer Eurodon.

Poultry farms in Russia continued to go bankrupt despite a strong rise in wholesale prices for broiler meat in the past few months. In 2018, the average price increased by 28% to RUB117,200 ($1,770) per t, according to the Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture. This was the strongest price hike since 2014, when the Russian Government introduced the food embargo, barring poultry imports from the European Union and the US.

However, there was also a strong increase in costs across the poultry industry. In 2018, the average price of feedstuffs increased by 35-45%, feed additives by 10-20% and diesel fuel by 10-15%, according to Tatiana Mariyna, a Russian agricultural industry analyst.

For instance, Dalnevostochnaya Pritsa, one of the biggest poultry producers in the Russia’s Far East region has recently gone bankrupt and, as the regional government explained in a statement released in early March, the problems were due to “the rising costs of feed grains and increasing charges for their delivery by rail​”.

Support from export

This growing tension in Russia’s poultry industry could be partly eased by higher export sales, Lyubov Burdienko, commercial director of Russian consulting agency EMEAT, told GlobalMeatNews​. Just recently, Russian agricultural holding Miratorg began exporting poultry meat to China, and other major meat manufacturers are also working hard to expand their overseas sales.

In 2019, the targeted export supplies of Russian chicken to the Chinese market would not only increase the overall volume​ [of poultry exports from Russia], but would also expand the range of exported products​,” said Burdienko. “With this backdrop, it is fair to say that there would not be oversupply on the market and troubled poultry producers would see their financial health improving​.”

Burdienko explained that medium-sized Russia poultry farms could take advantage of increasing sales on the domestic market, while the biggest producers fought to increase supplies to China.

If, for some reason, there was no success with poultry exports to China, smaller producers could exit the market​,” warned Burdienko.

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