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Russia imports 34% more beef

By Martin Ryan
Marts: While imports of beef by Russia during 2005 showed a significant increase, European exports of beef to Russia fall sharply following the cut in export refunds, which led to the deficit being filled by supplies from South American countries.

Russia’s latest import figures show that for the first nine months of 2005 the volume of beef purchased increased 34% to almost 458,000 tonnes.

All of the increase in supplies came from South American countries. Brazil almost doubled the supply of beef to Russia increasing sales by 100,000 tonnes to 191,000 tonnes. Imports from Argentina more than doubled to 129,500 tonnes.

These increases were achieved prior to the restrictions on supplies from Brazil which came into effect in September following confirmation of foot-and-mouth disease in Brazil and had a significant impact on the slowing down of trade for the last three months of the year.

During the first nine months imports from the EU were substantially lower following the cut in export refunds imposed by the EU Commission. Sales from Germany almost halved and trade with Ireland fell to just over 11,000 tonnes.

On the outlook for Irish beef, lower production in the EU should lead to an import requirement of 350,000 tonnes in 2006 with the expectation that Italy, France and Spain will require to import more.

This should provide opportunities for Irish exports to partly offset the expected decline in import requirements in Britain, resulting from the expected increase of over 500,000 extra animals coming into the food chain following the ending of the OTM restrictions, but a likely return of Brazilian beef supplies to Britain has to kept in mind.