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Russia's Pork Imports to be Zero in 2009?

by 5m Editor
21 May 2009, at 8:09am

RUSSIA - This year, pork imports may fall to zero, according to the chairman of the Russian Meat Union Board.

Russia may cease pork imports as soon as this year, the Chairman of Russian Meat Union Board, Musheg Mamikonyan announced, according to Meat Russia, as the result of domestic production growth and the fall in the purchasing power for red meat.

Last year, Russian pork production totaled two million tons, while the consumption was 2.75 million tons. The shortage was offset by the imported meat. If the consumption is down 20 per cent, the demand for pork will amount to 2.2 million tons. Taking into consideration an eight per cent rise in domestic production, this will be met by Russian pig producers. Thus, there may be no pork imports at all.

Recently, the Agriculture Ministry has reported that pork production output for the first three months was up 8.2 per cent compared to the same period last year. It means that depsite the economic slowdown, the industry has conserved the growth rate it had reached a year before.

The main reason for development of this sector is regular state support for the pig industry. Russian investments in the sector are not as generous as European ones but they do have a positive impact on it.

There is another reason for the growth, which is steady import substitution. At the end of the last year, the authorities decided to increase import duties for in-flow of out-of-quota pork. This could lead to a reduction of imports of this meat type by 200,000 tons.

However, there is always a flip side of the coin. Meat consumption has dropped in Russia. Last year, Russian Meat Union forecasted red meat demand decline by 20 per cent and meat product consumption by 15 per cent.

Mr Mamikonyan reported to Rossiyskaya Gazeta the forecast was coming true with respect to the fall in purchasing power fall. The same data was presented to the publication by the Head of the Executive Committee of National Meat Association, Sergey Yushin. Thus, experts suggest that the volume fall will be mainly in meat products processed from outside Russia.

Mr Mamikonyan said that Russia should pursue the imports substitution policy, as domestic pig production supplies the country with food, employment, taxes and social control across rural areas, concludes the Meat Russia report.