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Russia eyes pork export increases in 2019

Russian leading pork producers are planning massive exports of their products abroad, due to the current oversupply in the domestic market.

5 July 2019, at 9:00am

The increasing oversupply in the domestic market is leading to low local prices according to recent statements from Russian producers and senior officials at the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to data published by the Ministry, pork production hit 5.5 million tonnes in Russia this year (2019) - one of the highest figures in Russia's history.

Such rapid growth in production comes with obvious benefits but there are also some negative effects. Dmitry Patrushev, Russia’s Minister of Agriculture, says that rapid growth leads to lower prices for Russian pork both at wholesale level and retail. This forces local manufactures into considering cutting their production, or re-direct their supplies to foreign markets, one of which is China.

China and other export markets

According to the latest predictions of the US Department of Agriculture (FAS USDA), pork imports into China in 2019 will increase by 33 percent to 2 million tonnes this year, primarily due to the reduction of the Chinese pig population as a result of the African swine fever epidemic.

In addition to China, among the most targeted markets for Russian pork are Japan, Brazil, Iraq, South Korea and Turkey. To date, the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor), a poultry and meat regulator in Russia, has already commenced talks with their veterinary authorities regarding the establishment of regular exports.

This said, experts of the Russian Ministry of Agriculture say that implementation of these plans may face serious difficulties as currently many of these markets, particularly those of Japan, continue to be closed to Russian producers, which is mainly due to strict veterinary requirements and various technical barriers which are applied to pork importers.

According to Yury Kovalev, general director of the Russian National Union of Pig Producers, despite a complex situation with ASF, the local market is unlikely to open for Russian pork this year.

“The expansion into the Chinese pork market is a long and complex task, which requires huge efforts from Russian farmers and the national government," Kovalev explained.

"In regard to the ongoing spread of ASF in China, no one in the world currently knows what the consequences of this may be.

"There are some forecasts that China will increase its pork imports by almost 30 percent, however it is currently unclear which countries will benefit from this.

"In 2018, Russia increased deliveries of pork and pork by-products abroad by 16 percent to 83,800 tonnes.

This year the National Union of Pig Producers expects the current trend will continue, while the supplies may reach at least 100,000-120,000 tonnes."

Kovalev added that in the meantime, the growth of exports of Russian pork abroad is also prevented by the absence of an effective system of production control at Russian pig farms, as well as regular cases of ASF in the country.