The Australian Meat Industry Council yesterday afternoon issued the following update on the Russian beef market closure issue, published on Beef Central on Wednesday:
“The Department of Agriculture confirmed overnight that Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian Veterinary Authority has temporarily suspended frozen beef shipments to Russia from April 7.
This decision follows a similar temporary suspension on chilled beef exports to Russia from March 31. Other species are not affected.
Russia has been an extremely important market for the Australian beef industry taking more than 24,000 tonnes for the 12 months ended June 2013 and 20,000t in the current fiscal year to February 2014 – a trade worth more than $170 million a year.
Australia has been a traditional beef exporter to Russia since the 1970s and has had an impeccable record over more than four decades of meeting Russian market requirements at the time.
On December 20 the Australian government implemented new measures to ensure that beef exports to Russia from that date met the new requirements on the use of Trenbolone. While Russia commended the additional Australian measures for our beef exports, a temporary suspension of imports of beef offals was implemented on January 27.
On March 20 the Russian Veterinary Authority website posted a trenbolone detection in Australian chilled beef produced under the new measures. On March 21 Russia advised the Department via letter and requested a teleconference. The Department immediately provided detailed information to Russian authorities to address their concerns and invited Russian authorities to audit Australian meat establishments.
The Department's report strongly demonstrated that the product in question was not produced from cattle treated with HGPs. These results were presented on March 21 and followed up with a detailed report in writing.
The Australian Meat Industry Council believes the Russian decision to suspend imports of Australian chilled and frozen beef has been taken before the opportunity to fully consider the information provided by the Australian government has occurred.
AMIC remains confident that the product produced under the new arrangements implemented on December 20 last year is consistent with the Trenbolone free requirements of Russia and we remain committed to further discussions with Russia to clarify the situation.
AMIC will continue to work closely with the Department to resolve this issue and resume Australia's beef trade with Russia.”
According to the official Rosselkhoznadzor Import/Export website, Australian Russia-approved beef plants caught up in the ‘temporary restrictions’ include:
Australian Country Choice, Castricum Bros, Collinson Boning, EC Throsby, G & K O’Connor, GBP Australia, Greenham Tasmania, Greenmountain Food Processing, Harvey Industries, Hunter Valley Quality Meats, HW Greenham, JBS Australia (Qld/Victoria), John Dee, Kilcoy, Meramist, Midfield, Moe Meat Packers, Monbeef, Nolan Meats, Northern Cooperative Meat Co, Oakey, Pacific Meat Sales, Ralphs Meats, Stanbroke, Tabro, Teys Australia, Thomas Foods International, Top Cut Food Industries, Wingham Abattoirs, Wodonga Rendering and Yolarno.
In Beef Central's Wednesday article, it was reported that Russia had imposed suspensions on imported Australian beef after the detection of growth promotant compounds.
Limits on chilled beef from Australia were imposed on March 31 and frozen beef products are to be restricted from Monday after Russia's VPSS veterinary and phytosanitary service detected the HGP compound, trenbolone.
Unlike most importing countries which operate under a maximum residue limit for the compound, Russia has a zero tolerance.
This will mean restrictions on all beef imports from Australia, VPSS spokesman Alexei Alekseenko told Reuters. Limits on chilled beef from Australia were imposed on March 31, while frozen beef imports will be restricted from April 7, he said.
Shipments already on the water en route will be accepted.
Russia is looking to Asia to compensate for a decrease in meat supplies following restrictions on exports from the US, the European Union and Australia. It may allow Chinese pork and Indian buffalo meat imports, VPSS said in March.
Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce said he would do whatever was necessary to re-establish the trade – estimated to be worth more than $110 million annually – as quickly as possible.
"In the meantime to make sure we look after the people behind the farm gate, we will be developing other markets," Mr Joyce said.
During a trip to Saudi Arabia next week, the minister will be promoting Australia's meat export sector, as will Prime Minister Tony Abbott when he visits China.
Trenbolone was first detected during point-of-arrival testing of Australian beef in December. At the time Australian authorities issued a notice to beef producers reminding them of the export obligations.
As described in yesterday’s March beef export summary, Russia is a declining market for Australian beef exports, taking just 549 tonnes of Australian beef in March. This follows just 404t a month earlier, both well down on the 1500t shipped for March last year.
Calendar year to date, Russia/CIS has taken just 1221t of Australian beef – a very long way from full-year exports in 2010 and 2011 which both topped 60,000 tonnes.