A ban imposed by Russia on meat imports from 10 Brazilian processing plants took effect yesterday, but Brazilian exporters say the move will have little impact on the country’s overall trade with the market.
Russia is the world’s largest importer of beef, taking over one million tonnes of beef annually in recent years.
Brazil is the largest exporter of beef to Russia, and its share of the market grew last year after Russia placed an embargo on food imports from the US, EU, Canada, Norway and Australia in September 2014 in retaliation to their sanctions imposed over Russia’s earlier annexation of Crimea.
However Russia’s imports of beef are reported to have slowed this year due to the impact of energy prices on its economy and consumer demand and the sharp depreciation of the Russian Rouble against major currencies, which has pushed up the price of buying importing beef.
Data reported by the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) indicates that Brazilian beef exports to Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan grew by 1pc to 307,100 tonnes in 2014, however, first quarter shipments totalled just 22,000t, down by more than 50% on the first quarter of 2014.
According to Reuters, Russia recently announced import bans on 10 Brazilian beef processing plants after inspectors from Russia’s veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance authority Rosselkhoznadzor visited Brazil in March.
In a statement on its website, Rosselkhoznadzor said the inspection revealed “shortcomings associated primarily with traceability in the manufacture of food products and casings, as well as the organisation of veterinary inspection and veterinary-sanitary examination of the enterprises”.
A spokesperson for Brazil’s beef export association Abiec told Reuters that Russia, the second biggest importer of Brazilian beef in 2014 after Hong Kong and a major importer of the country’s pork, regularly revises the list of approved Brazilian meat packers.
The spokesperson said the ban was unlikely to impact trade because large meat processors in Brazil had the capacity to redirect cattle to other export plants that have not been banned by Rosselkhoznadzor.
“There is no commercial problem of any kind… If I can’t export here, I’ll export from there. Our capacity is very large,” Abiec President Antonio Camardelli said.
Eight beef processing plants were banned, including three owned by Marfrig SA and two by JBS SA.
Brazil can still export beef to Russia from 28 plants, according to Abiec.
International meat news websites have also published a statement from JBS in Brazil stating that the delisting of plants by Russia is unlikely to have a material effect on its meat exports to the market.
“From time to time, Russia revises the lists of establishments approved for exports destination Russia. Russian vets do audits in loco and product is analysed upon arrival. The results can be that plants are removed and re-listed periodically and that is normal practice. The company has a total of 31 other establishments in Brazil which are Russian approved so the delisting does not jeopardise trade to our Russian customers nor does it cause any material losses to the company,” the statement from a JBS spokesperson said.