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Russia breaks $ 1 billion threshold with pork exports

In the first half of 2020, Russia exported 88,000 tonnes of pork, 96% up compared to the same period last year.

Yuri Kovalev, chairman of the Russian Union of Pork Producers (RUPP) outlined these results, speaking at an online conference early August. If all goes well, Russia should be able to export 200,000 tonnes of pork this year with a total worth of $ 300 million. That achievement would push the Russian meat export beyond US$ 1 billion for the first time ever, he said.

A sow and her piglets on a newly built farm in Russia. - Photo: Vincent ter Beek
A sow and her piglets on a newly built farm in Russia. - Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Shrinking pork imports into Russia

Kovalev said the country came a long way from being one of the world’s biggest pork importers to becoming a net exporter. In 2009, the country imported 1.25 million tonnes of pork, while in 2020, pork imports are expected to be close to zero.

The rapid development of the Russian pig industry is also beneficial for the customers on the domestic market. In 2019, pork prices fell by 8%, and in 2020 have already dropped by 10%. As a result, domestic pork consumption grew 5.2% or 95,000 tonnes in the first half of the year.

Last year, Pig Progress visited a modern Cherkizovo swine farm in Lipetsk region. Read the feature here

Growing capacities of Russia’s pork industry

Kovalev said that in the first half of the year, Russia produced 2.36 million tonnes of pork, 12.6% up than the same period last year. The top-20 pork producers in Russia, jointly accounting for 70% of the country’s output, harbour plans to ramp up production by 47% in the coming few years, he added.

Kovalev said that in that period, the domestic consumption is projected to increase by 300,000 to 350,000 tonnes, while export is likely to grow by 350,000 tonnes. On the other hand, due to severe price competition, several pig farms, together producing roughly 200,000 tonnes, are likely to go bankrupt in the next few years, he said.

China is the most promising market

In the first half of 2020, China has become the biggest purchaser of Russian meat, accounting for 54% of total sales to non-Russian customers. Russia is exporting poultry and beef to China, while the direct supplies of pork are still prohibited.

Russian market players estimate that the country could export to China between 350,000 to 1 million tonnes of pork per year. Russia’s pig farmers are still barred from the Chinese market. The country states it has been making noticeable progress in the struggle against African Swine Fever (ASF) in recent years.

Read also: Russia’s pig industry grows further – is it all good?