Russian pork exports to China begin ahead of schedule

Russian pork exports China
Russia’s largest pork producer and processor, Miratorg, is among the 3 companies preparing to export pork to China. Photo: ANP

The Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has commenced registration of the first 3 companies for pork exports to China. The first shipments are due in the next 2 months.

Previously, Russia’s deputy prime minister Victoria Abramchenko and the Russian pig farmers anticipated the first batches of Russian pork would be delivered to Chinese customers in the middle of 2024.

Fulfilling recommendations

Rosselhoznadzor has passed information to the Chinese side about fulfilling the recommendations the Chinese officials gave during inspections of the Russian pork production capacities between 4 and 14 December.

Russia’s largest pork producer and processor, Miratorg, is among the 3 companies preparing to export pork to China, local news outlet ROSNG reported. The Russian government agency Agroexport earlier also reported that Sibagro, a prominent Siberian pig company, was also working on launching pork exports to the Chinese market.

Looming oversupply

The Russian authorities may be rushing to begin exports to China to avoid an oversupply on the domestic market, which is still looming despite a substantial rise in consumption in the previous year.

Over the past 2 months, the average price of live pigs in Russia dropped by 25%, the Russian National Meat Association (RMA) calculated. To some extent, the price dynamics are attributed to a seasonal factor, as pork prices are traditionally higher during the barbecue season and lower during colder months.

Despite the price turbulence, the RMA expected meat consumption in the country to keep growing. In 2024, it is expected to reach 80 kg per capita.

Humble forecasts

There is no clarity about the planned export volumes. Yuri Kovalev, chairman of the Russian Union of Pork Producers (RUPP), estimated that Russian exporters could take a 10% share of the Chinese pork imports, equal to 2 million tonnes.

Russian farmers, however, will not be able to fully unravel their potential in 2024, RUPP said. This year, the deliveries are likely to be limited to only 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes. This is due to a need to pass registration, adapt to the Chinese market, and build comprehensive logistics and financial chains, RUPP said.

In 2023, Russian pig farmers exported 255,000 tonnes of pork, 66% up compared with the previous year, RUPP said. If live pigs and by-products are taken into account, this figure is likely to be as high as 270,000 tonnes.

Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern Europe correspondent