Meat and Livestock Australia's international business manager for Europe and Russia Josh Anderson.

Goat meat breaking new ground in Russia

DESPITE Russia’s potential as a ‘sleeping giant’ in terms of global beef demand, Australian beef producers are being told to set their expectations longer term.

DESPITE Russia’s potential as a ‘sleeping giant’ in terms of global beef demand, Australian beef producers are being told to set their expectations longer term.

There is no sign yet of light at the end of the tunnel in regard to access, given political bans imposed on the importation of Australian beef have just been extended to the end of 2017.

The devaluation of the Rouble has also meant that even with access, the majority of Russia’s huge consumer base would be unlikely to have the capacity to purchase Australian product at the moment, Meat and Livestock Australia’s international business manager covering Russia Josh Anderson said.

Russia has restricted the import of beef from Australia, along with Europe, the United States and Canada, since 2014 when those nations imposed economic sanctions over Russian involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

Rabobank has labelled Russia a sleeping giant - it has not been able to generate volumes that overcome its beef deficit.

It’s production declined last year to be 9 per cent below its last peak in 2009, largely as a result of a declining dairy herd, with beef mostly a byproduct of dairy production.

When it re-enters the global beef trade it could draw in substantial import volumes, Rabobank believes.

Before the ban, Russia was importing a stable one million tonnes carcase weight, or 16 per cent of global beef trade and Rabobank believes it has the potential to return to those levels with a lift on bans.

Brazil has continued to supply Russia but the depreciating Rouble and other lucrative opportunities around the world meant in 2015 its exports to Russia dropped 45pc in volume.

Mr Anderson said there were “a lot of big things at play” with regards to Russia’s beef market re-opening to Australia and it was not likely that would happen in the short term.

A positive, however, had been the gained traction of other proteins in the market.

Australia is on track to ship 46 tonnes of goat meat to Russia this year, from a starting point of zero 12 months ago.

“The key thing is it’s all branded product going into retail shops,” Mr Anderson said.

“The Russians are happy to see Australian animal protein product on the shelf - there is still a good relationship there and the goat opportunity is something we want to see open up further.”

Wilcannia producer and president of the Goat Industry Council of Australia Rick Gates said diversity of global markets was extremely welcome in the goat industry.

“Our bread and butter is America but we are very aware we need new and a high-end markets in order to have alternative options,” he said.

“Australian goat meat is currently running at $6.20 a kilogram over-the-hooks skin-off, which is higher than lamb, so it is quite an expensive product overseas which makes the Russian opportunity even more valuable.”

Mr Gates said the problem would be ongoing supply but “it is our intention is to foster this Russian opportunity and grow it as much as possible.”

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