UK: Lifting of Russia’s 26 year ban on UK meat ‘could be worth up to �115m’

The official lifting of Russia’s 26-year ban on importing meat supplies which could be worth between �80million and �115m to the industry over three years, a UK beef and sheep organisation says.

Beef exports are expected to begin from a limited number of plants in the new year, while lamb exports are due to follow in April. The technical decision to lift the ban was made during the summer and the political announcement has confirmed the position.

In 2011, fresh and frozen beef and veal exports from the UK were worth �438.1m, said EBLEX, while fresh and frozen sheep meat exports were worth �381.6 million. Significantly, Russia one of the largest importers of beef with imports of more than 600,000 tonnes.

EBLEX has been working with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to address Russia’s long-standing ban on British beef for some time and earlier this year hosted a delegation of eight Russian vets. They spent just over a week with DEFRA’s export team visiting farms and processing facilities as part of the process of working towards developing potential market access for the UK.

Peter Hardwick, EBLEX head of trade development, said: “EBLEX has been working closely with DEFRA to emphasise the importance of this market and, through the Export Certification Partnership with Defra, placed Russia as a top priority in terms of market access and the lifting of import restrictions.

“Russia remains one of the largest global importers of beef and the potential for beef exports there is enormous. We welcome the official political announcement but are not surprised as the technical decision to lift the ban had already been made.

“We’ve been helping to work towards this for some time and were aware of Nigel Gibbens’ visit to Moscow. As we’ve said before, improving market access for beef and lamb in non-EU countries will help the UK compete on the global stage and maximise returns for producers.”