Russia closed to U.S. pork in early February 2013 due to its policy on beta agonists. In early March 2014, based on a new USDA program for pork exports from animals not fed beta agonists, Russia restored eligibility for two U.S. pork slaughter plants – and in July 2014, exports to Russia rebounded to nearly $50 million. However, on Aug. 7, 2014, pork trade with Russia was suspended due to an embargo on imports of most pork items announced by the Russian government in retaliation for economic sanctions stemming from the conflict in Ukraine. Pork fat and some pork offal items were not included in the embargo, but this changed in October 2017 when the embargo was expanded to include pork and beef offal and animal fat. See more details in this USMEF Exporter Update
The major exporting countries included in the embargo were the U.S., Canada, and the EU. But Russia had already suspended pork imports from the EU (historically its largest supplier) in January 2014 due to African swine fever (ASF) in EU member countries Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. Canada was most impacted, as Russia had become its third-largest export market behind the U.S. and Japan.
With few other suppliers eligible to serve the Russian market, Brazil was providing nearly 90 percent of Russia’s imported pork, with the remainder supplied by Belarus, Chile and Argentina. But on Dec. 1, 2017, Russia suspended imports of all Brazilian red meat due to detection of beta agonist residues. At that time, Russia was taking 40 percent of Brazil’s total pork exports. The ban was in place until Nov. 1, 2018, when Russia lifted its suspension on nine Brazilian meat plants. For the most part, USMEF views Russia’s resumption of pork imports from Brazil as a positive development, because it won’t displace any U.S. pork and could relieve pressure in some of the markets where imports of Brazilian pork spiked following the Russia closure – such as China/Hong Kong, Singapore, Argentina, Angola, Chile and the Philippines.