August 26, 2014
In light of sanctions which prevent the imports of pork from Western nations, Russia will find replacements in products from China.
In addition, the current line-up of banned pork from specific countries are unlikely to resume their place in the Russian market even if sanctions are lifted, according to the local meat products watchdog.
The Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance said that "the government is actively cooperating with China's veterinary authorities on pork supplies from certain highly integrated Chinese enterprises".
In the past, Russia's Far East region relied heavily on meat supplies from the US and Canada. The change in meat suppliers comes after Moscow imposed a one-year ban on a number of agricultural products, including meat, fish, poultry, fruit, vegetables, wine and dairy products from the US, the EU, Norway, Canada and Australia in response to economic sanctions imposed on Russia.
Tian Zhihong, a professor specialising in the international trade of agricultural products at China Agricultural University in Beijing, said that, despite Russia's decision occurring at an early stage, it will still have profound political and economic implications as the development comes at a critical time when the US and its European allies are attempting to restrict the country's trade space in the world market.
To increase accessibility to other markets, Russia is permitting food imports from neighbouring Belarus and Kazakhstan as the country seeks to control domestic food price increases triggered by the ban on food imported from the West.
"Because Russia can gain pork supplies from other member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States such as Belarus, Armenia and Moldova, to support the demand in its western part, China's rising pork exports to Russia will be processed and consumed in the country's eastern part," Professor Tian explained.
Professor Tian adds that companies from China's Sichuan and Henan provinces and north-eastern region are likely to be selected for pork exportation to Russia since these regions have developed pig-raising and pork-processing industries.
With a booming feed industry and surging domestic meat demand, China exported 1.68 million pigs and 73,000 tonnes of frozen pork in 2013.
In the same year, Russia imported 619,200 tonnes of pork valued at US$2.13 billion, with Denmark, Germany, Canada and Brazil as its main suppliers, according to data from Russia's Federal Customs Service. The country purchased 79,300 tonnes of Canadian pork for US$246.3 million and received US$19 million worth of pork from the US in 2013.