Russia: size of food imports roughly equal to exports

Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patroeshev expects pork production to recover in several regions in the next six months. He said this in a meeting with President Putin, according to the Russian financial magazine Agroinvestor.

According to Patroeshev, his agricultural department expects to reach the 2020 indicators for the poultry sector by the end of this year. For beef, the ministry even predicts a production increase of about 1.5%, according to the transcript on the Kremlin's website. 

A source from Agroinvestor from the poultry industry, who asked for anonymity, questions predictions of a recovery in poultry meat production. According to him, a decrease of 1.5% can be expected compared to last year. This year the bird flu and problems with the import of hatching eggs led to a sharp drop in poultry volumes.

According to figures from the Union of Poultry Producers, announced during a recent webinar, the production of poultry meat by slaughter weight was 3.6 million tons, which is 1.7% less than in the same period of 2020.

To support the capacity of the meat industry and stabilize prices, import restrictions are being imposed on frozen pork up to 100 thousand tons and frozen beef up to 200 thousand tons, Patrushev said. This topic will soon be on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission.

In neighboring Kazakhstan, measures are also being taken to curb rising food prices. There is an export ban for cattle and small livestock for six months. The measure, which will come into effect at the end of December, is intended to prevent further increases in meat prices on the domestic market. From early 2021 to November, prices for beef increased by 15% and for lamb by 21%. At the same time, in Kazakhstan, the export of potatoes and carrots from the country is suspended for three months.

According to Russian experts, food imports in Russia are currently roughly equal to exports. Russia's Grains Union (RGU) Vice President Alexander Korbut said Russia will increase imports of bananas, coffee, tea, apples, early vegetables and other products this year. “From my point of view, this is very natural: imports are not a factor that displaces Russian products or undermines our own food security. Imports ensure market saturation,” he says. 

According to him, the volume of Russian imports depends on what happens to the incomes of the population: if they grow, so will imports. The situation with the ruble will also have an impact. Now the exchange rate is strengthening, which is expected to provide an incentive for importers.