ANALYSIS - Russia is actively seeking new sources of pig meat to compensate for the drop in supplies from Europe following the ban on exports imposed by the veterinary authorities after the discovery of African swine fever in Lithuania and Poland.
According to the Russian National Union of Meat Processors, since February production of meat products has fallen by between seven and 15 per cent.
Prices have risen by seven per cent particularly for live pigs and for half carcases.
Chairman of the meat processors’ union Anatoly Kosinsky said that the rise in prices for raw materials for manufacturing could see 10 per cent of the processors go out of business.
And he welcomed moves by the Russian veterinary authorities, Rosselkhoznador, to source new supplies from countries not affected by African swine fever.
At a meeting of more than 100 meat industry representatives last week, the head of Rosselkhoznador, Sergey Dankvert (pictured) hit out at the European Commission for the lack of progress in putting forward measures to contain African swine fever.
He repeated his claim that the current regionalisation proposals by the European Commission were insufficient.
He said: “Given the situation with the spread of the disease among wild boar, Rosselkhoznador considers it necessary to include in regionalisation measures any state where an outbreak has occurred.”
He said that Rosselkhoznador was ready to take guarantees from individual countries, but this was not in accord with the European Commission.
“According to Russian experts, African swine fever in the EU is more common than officially reported,” he said.
“At the same time, the level of biological protection on most European pig farms is extremely low.”
He added that the commission had no applied to the Eurasian Union to change their veterinary certification nor had they discussed mutually acceptable approaches to regionalisation.
Russia is now in discussion with India about increasing imports of buffalo meat and with China for increasing pork imports.
The country has renewed its imports of pig meat from the US and is interested in increasing supplies from Brazil and Canada.
However, Mr Dankvert said Rosslekhoznador is also aware of the problems that the US and Canada is having at present with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea.
At the meat industry meeting, Musheg Mamikonyan, the president of the Common Economic Meat Union called for action to protect the domestic pig sector and he said that the sector must work with countries that recognise the standards and requirements of the Russian Customs Union.
However, he said that the transition to new suppliers could take up to three months.
Sergei Mikailov from the meat processing giant Cherkizovo said that the shortage of lard on the market is having a critical effect on the production of sausages.
However he said that at the same time the most affordable source of protein, poultry had seen an increase in production of five per cent and there are signs of overproduction now in Russia.
Yuri Kovalev, the head of the National Swine Union that covers more than 90 per cent of pig production and 50 per cent of pig meat product production said that domestic production needs to increase its level of biological protection and needs to increase productivity in order to end reliance on imported pig meat.
“Pork production is growing at between 15 and 17 per cent a year, with the commissioning of new slaughterhouses with full scale cutting lines.
Sergey Yushin, the head of the National Meat Association backed the call for better biosecurity measures to counter African swine fever and other diseases but he also called for tighter controls on illegal shipments of meat from Belarus and Ukraine.