Update on Russia: Meat Imports Still Well Below 2012 Pace

Closure of the Russian market to U.S. pork and beef continues to be a major source of frustration for the U.S. meat industry. While this has been a solid year for U.S. exports (see page 1), the beta agonist-related impasse with Russia is a critical factor preventing the industry from establishing a record-setting pace in 2013. Russia Live Hog Price

USDA and Russia’s Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) have been in technical discussions for the past two months regarding the process verified program (PVP) that would allow pork and beef exports from animals not fed beta agonists to resume. These discussions have focused on specific components of the PVP, and progress has been slow. Even when an agreement is reached on the PVP, the Russian market will remain closed to meat from cattle and hogs that have been fed ractopamine or zilpaterol.

Other suppliers filling gap in Russia, but not completely
While other meat-supplying countries have capitalized to some degree on the absence of U.S. products, Russia’s total meat imports remain well below the 2012 pace. As we discussed in the July 19 Export Newsline, this is due to redistribution of imports and higher domestic production, especially in the first half of the year. Additionally, the U.S. is not alone in facing challenges, as Russia has restricted imports from other suppliers, including Canada and even some EU member states.

Russia’s hog prices have rebounded this summer, reaching 82.4 rubles/kg ($1.11/pound) by early September, up 30 percent from the April low, but still trailing last year by 11 percent. Prices started their decline, as shown below, at about this time last year, and have recovered into late summer.

Despite significant increases from the EU and Brazil, Russia’s pork/pork variety meat imports in July were down 15 percent from a year ago to 60,699 mt. U.S. pork was completely absent from the market while imports from Canada were down 76 percent to 3,436 mt.

Russian-Pork-VM-Imports For January through July, total imports were down 19 percent to 384,600 mt. The EU (248,486 mt, -1 percent) was the main supplier but Brazil also achieved a partial rebound (74,570 mt, +31 percent from a year ago but still -40 percent from 2011) and imports from Chile were moderately higher (10,036 mt, +4 percent). Imports from Canada were down 56 percent (42,020 mt) and down 87 percent (6,217 mt) from the U.S.

The EU accounted for 65 percent of Russia’s pork imports but results for individual member states were mixed, including: Germany (56,429 mt, -18 percent), Spain (46,416 mt, -26 percent), Denmark (49,672 mt, +10 percent), the Netherlands (15,095 mt, +71 percent) and Poland (12,755 mt, +103 percent).

Double-Pie-ChartRussianImports Russia’s beef and variety meat imports in July were down 8 percent to 60,868 mt, even with significant increases from Brazil (26,580 mt, +21 percent) and Paraguay (16,727 mt, +43 percent). These two suppliers accounted for more than 70 percent of Russia’s July import volume. Imports were also larger from Argentina (3,767 mt, +52 percent) and Ukraine (1,896 mt, +85 percent) but lower from all other major suppliers.

For January through July, total imports were down 13 percent (359,549 mt) despite larger imports from Brazil (161,480 mt, +13 percent), Paraguay (79,387 mt, +34 percent), Argentina (27,282 mt, +6 percent) and Ukraine (8,527 mt, +13 percent). Imports were lower from the EU (28,052 mt, -26 percent), Uruguay (27,662 mt, -41 percent), Australia (20,021 mt, -30 percent) and New Zealand (4,065 mt, -11 percent). Imports from the U.S. (337 mt) and Canada (45 mt) were each down 99 percent.