At the World Food Moscow food exhibition in September, United States Meat Export Federation senior president for trade access Thad Lively met with trade officials and meat industry leaders to discuss the current business climate for U.S. pork and beef.
Lively says Russia's demand for U.S. meat is very strong, as indicated by this year's export statistics: August U.S. beef exports to Russia were 8% ahead of last year's record pace in volume (nearly 117 million pounds) and 31% higher in value ($214 million). Pork exports were 30% higher than a year ago in volume (140.4 million pounds) and up 22% in value ($183 million).
"It's been a good year for us with both beef and pork exports to Russia and I'd say the atmosphere at the World Food Show, for example, was very positive, very energetic," Lively says. "I would say our position in the market there is as good as I've seen it for several years."
Russia has invested heavily in its pork industry, with the stated objective of reaching self-sufficiency in pork production in the near future. But Lively notes that controlling African swine fever is one of many challenges making this an elusive goal.
"This year pork production in Russia today that is coming from modern production units is considerably higher than it was just four or five years ago. On the one hand they have made pretty big strides, but the biggest challenge they face towards meeting their self-sufficiency goal is controlling African Swine Fever," Lively says.
He said that until they are able to control ASF, their ability to meet self-sufficiency targets is limited.
Lively adds that Russia made significant market access concessions for U.S. beef and pork as part of its negotiations to join the World Trade Organization, including a larger tariff rate quota for U.S. beef muscle cuts and reduced duty rates for pork imports. But he says WTO membership has not eliminated all barriers facing U.S. meat as it enters Russia, so significant work continues on approval of U.S. processing plants, consistent application of veterinary standards and other key issues.