July 29, 2013


Russia pork export industry in danger as ASF epidemic escalates



Experts have warned that Russia's pork export industry is in a precarious situation, as African swine fever (ASF) epidemic continues to spread to new regions of the country.


This week, Belarus imposed temporary restrictions on pork from Russia's Rostov Oblast, Yaroslavl Oblast and Tula Oblast regions, where outbreaks of ASF have been reported. Similar bans on individual regions have been introduced by Baltic countries, as well as Poland.


According to experts, such a rapid spread of the disease could lead to a total shutdown on exports of pork from Russia.


"The problem of ASF is very serious. Russian exports of pork are currently worth US$4 million a year. The export potential is great, but it has been constrained for many years by the spread of ASF," said experts at analytical agency, Agrorucom.


"In the current situation, where the entire centre and the south of Russia are covered by the epidemic, prohibitions on the supply of pork products have been introduced, even by Russia's partners in the Customs Union - Belarus and Kazakhstan. And these countries account for 80% of exports."


The experts added that Russia's pork exports are expected to decrease further by the end of the year. Russian pig farmers have warned that the loss of exports could have a serious impact on the future development of the industry.


"We are now reaching the threshold of saturation on the domestic pork market," said Vitaly Efremov, a member of the Union of Pig Farmers of Russia.


"Domestic producers have great export potential, and their pork is competitive on price and quality. However, when an outbreak of ASF is registered in their region, they lost the right to export their products for at least six months. And, usually, there is more than one outbreak registered in the regions affected by ASF."


He warned that if Russia does not increase its supply of pork to foreign markets by 2014, there would be little growth in the country's domestic pork industry.