Major meat buyer Russia should increase domestic breeding to be able to export $1.5 billion-$2.0 billion worth of poultry meat and pork by 2020, Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik said.

“By 2020 exports of poultry meat, under our calculations, may reach 400,000 tonnes and pork 500,000 tonnes,” Skrynnik told a meeting chaired by President Dmitry Medvedev.

“The main markets will be the Commonwealth of Independent States (11 countries of the former Soviet Union), South East Asia, the European Union and the Middle East.”

Russia, which covers much of its needs by imported meat, has repeatedly said it aims to become an exporter. However, officials offered different timetables.

First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, who oversees the farm sector, said in April 2009 Moscow aimed to become self-sufficient in poultry meat and pork—and even start to export meat—as soon as 2012.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in January Russia should not only cover its own domestic needs but export poultry meat in the next four to five years.

Under the Russian Food Security Doctrine adopted in February a minimum level of self-sufficiency in meat is set at 85 percent of consumption volumes, but the doctrine does not say when this level should be reached.

Russia has so far managed to increase its poultry and pig population, but could not stop a decline in cattle numbers.

Meat Safety
Russian meat producers believe the set targets are feasible only if certain conditions are met.

“Russia may export (by 2020) several hundred thousand tonnes of poultry meat and pork,” Sergei Yushin, head of the National Meat Association Industry lobby, told Reuters.

“But the main condition for this should be not so much the price (of meat), but our capacity to guarantee the product safety through an efficient veterinary and sanitary control. Importer countries should be convinced that the meat is safe.”

He said Russia should also investigate thoroughly the needs of potential importer countries.

“Currently, we understand the necessities of, say, Middle East, northern Africa, China and Hong Kong markets which now work with Brazil, the United States and Canada,” Yushin said.

“But we should have ambitious plans. And we should understand in the next one or two years what are the national demands (of other countries).”

He said Russia had already succeeded in starting exports of poultry feet and pig hoofs—which are not in demand in Russia—to China, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

“Exports rose to 10,000 tonnes last year from 2,000 tonnes three years ago. This year we expect exports of 18,000 tonnes,” Yushin said. (Reuters)