Russian pig meat exports soar on back of strong production growth
By Felicity Rusk, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (UK)
12 November 2020
Russian exports of pig meat (incl. offal) have continued to perform well this year, reflecting the growth in production.† Russian exports between January and August totalled 143,300 tonnes, 80% more than the same period in the previous year. The nation has gained access to several export markets in recent years, including Mongolia, Hong Kong and Vietnam, while negotiations with China are still ongoing. The Russian Union of Pork Producers (RUPP) suggests that exports of pig meat could surpass 200,000 tonnes by the end of the year, which if realised would put volumes up 45% on the year.
The rise in exports reflects a significant growth in the nationís domestic production. In the year to September, Russian pig meat production totalled 3.55 million tonnes, 12% more than in the same period in the previous year, according to Rosstat.
Prices have not been particularly strong this year. In the week ending 4 November, liveweight pigs averaged 97.80 rubles/kg, 4% below the same point in the previous year. Reports suggest that retailers are increasing shares of fresh and chilled pork to reduce the additional costs associated with handling frozen pork. This has enabled consumer prices of pork as well as chicken to come down, with pork actually pricing below chicken in some instances.
ASF is an ongoing threat to the Russian pig herd, as well as a barrier to opening new export markets. Reports suggest that the disease is primarily within the wild/feral pig population. However, in late October, traces of ASF were identified in pork products in several regions of Russia. While not harmful to humans, the genetic traces of the virus are highly contagious among pigs. As such, the disease remains an ongoing risk for the Russian pig sector.
Reports indicate some regions within Russia have been handing out piglets to the population in order to mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19. Unemployment rates have soared as a result of the pandemic. As such, citizens in certain regions are eligible for two piglets per person, as a means of financial and nutritional support from the state.
This could potentially lead to a resurgence of backyard farming, which has been in decline in the last two decades. Furthermore, there is also concern about biosecurity, particularly with the potential transmission of ASF into domestic pig populations. The consequences of this policy remain to be seen; low prices and some regional biosecurity restrictions might still mitigate any potential for growth from the informal sector.
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