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‘Russia has become the world’s 5th largest pork producer’

According to Russian data, Russia has overtaken Brazil in terms of pig production performance in 2020, thus becoming the world’s 5th largest pork producer.

The data come from a research by the Russian state bank Gazprombank. In 2020, Russia produced 4.27 million tonnes of pork in slaughter weight, 9.7% up compared to the previous year. The Russian Union of Pork Producers (RUPP) forecasted that the industry’s growth is likely to continue through 2023 or 2024. The Russian government issued the last soft loans under new farm constructions in 2018. Currently, several projects designed for growing 15 million head of pigs per year are under implementation in the country.

Pork exports are the new growth driver

In 2020, Russia exported 200,000 tonnes of pork, almost twice the level of 2019, RUPP said. In line with earlier forecasts, the Asia-Pacific market has become the biggest sales market for Russian pork. For instance, sales to Hong Kong increased from 26,900 tonnes in 2019 to 49,900 tonnes in 2020. Export deliveries to Vietnam jumped from 11,300 tonnes in 2019 to 59,000 last year, RUPP said.

Russia is currently exporting pork to 20 countries. There are good chances that export diversification will continue in 2021, and Russia will further boost foreign sales, primarily to the countries outside the CIS region.

Progress in sausage exports

Besides, Russia has managed to make substantial progress in sausage export. As explained by Andrey Terekhin, chairman of the public relations department of Cherkizovo’s trade house, in 2020, Russian companies increased the export of sausages by 30% compared to the previous year.

Terekhin added that Cherkizovo plans to boost sausage export in the coming years, in particular hoping that the Chinese veterinary authorities would greenlight sausages import from Russia.

Industrial producers keep growing

In 2020, top-10 pig companies in Russia produced more than half of all pork in the country. Miratorg remained the biggest pork producer by increasing output by 22.4% to 522,300 tonnes, according to company figures.

Velikoluskiy pig complex is currently ranked 2nd in the list of Russian large pork producers. In 2020, the company increased production by 15.3% to 307,900 tonnes. The company has embarked on a capacity-expansion programme, under which the production performance is expected to grow to 400,000 tonnes per year by 2024.

Cherkizovo also increased production by 7.1% to 306,600 tonnes.

A modern farm by Cherkizovo in Lipetsk region. - Photo: Vincent ter Beek
A modern farm by Cherkizovo in Lipetsk region. - Photo: Vincent ter Beek

ASF is the main challenge

Despite substantial expansion plans, RUPP has recently altered its 2021 production forecast saying that this year the Russian pig industry will add only 180,000 tonnes of pork, instead of 260,000 tonnes, under earlier projections.

As explained by Yuri Kovalev, chairman of the RUPP, the main reason is the continuing epidemic of African Swine Fever (ASF). He explained that the disease currently is out of control, and new massive outbreaks could prompt RUPP to downsize its production growth forecast even further.