Russia eyes Chinese poultry trade as shortages loom

Russian meat firms could benefit from a deal to export poultry to China

Russia is planning to promote exports of poultry and pork to China and has already started talks with the Chinese government to increase exports beyond their current low volumes. 

Impetus for the move has come from the top, with Russian President Vladimir Putin stressing in a speech that the government has high hopes for selling poultry to the Chinese as, according to predictions from the Russian Agriculture Ministry, China may face a shortage this year.

Putin said: “In recent years, Russia has significantly reduced food imports and increased domestic production of meat – in particular pork and poultry. Currently, [Russia’s] domestic production fully meets our local needs, providing an opportunity for exports. We are in the process of finishing talks with the Chinese government with a view to opening up their market for supplies of Russian pork and poultry.

‘Very successful’ year for Russia

The Russian Union of Poultry Producers (Rosptitsesoyuz) has confirmed that Russia is moving towards excess meat production, with poultry meat output in particular growing steadily. Vladimir Fisinin, president of Rosptitsesoyuz, commented: “Last year was very successful for Russian poultry producers, as total production of poultry in the country amounted to 4.6 million tonnes. Currently Russia remains the world’s fourth-largest poultry producer, with an annual per capita production of 31kg.” Regarding exports, he said that, last year (2016), 110,000 tonnes (t) of Russian poultry were sold abroad. “According to our plans, this figure should grow to 500,000t by 2020. That will be also achieved by launching exports to China…” Notably, large Russian producers such as Cherkizovo, Resurs and Belgorod Prioskolye “will be ready to increase their supplies in the short-term”, he said.

Officials at the Russian Agriculture Ministry told GlobalMeatNews that despite the fact that China remains the world’s second-largest producer of chicken meat, its production mostly relies on imports of breeding stock, rather than home-grown birds.

In the past, 90% of these supplies have come from the USA and France, according to statistics from Chinese investment bank CITIC Securities. However, in January 2015, China banned imports of poultry and poultry products from the US following an outbreak of avian influenza. For the same reason, in November 2015, China banned imports of breeding chicks from France. As a result, Chinese imports of breeding chicks fell by 40% – to 680,000 units in 2015 and 500,000 units in 2016, the lowest level in the past 10 years. CITIC predicted these figures would remain at this level this year.

According to Chinese market researcher Zhongtai Securities, to ensure stable volumes of poultry production in China, the annual volume of breeding chick imports should be at least 800,000 units.

Talks between the Russian and Chinese governments on approving Russian pork exports are also being staged, according to the Agriculture Ministry. But these have yet to be resolved, and success will depend on the Russian government reducing cases of African swine fever in its territory.

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