Trends in Moscow’s Meat and Meat Product Exports
The market for meat is often cited as one of the most resilient and stable in the food sector. Global demand for meat products rarely declines, even in times of crisis. In 2020, global meat prices barely moved in an environment of falling imports and excess supply. According to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), meat prices slipped a mere 4.5%.
Meat and meat products add stability to a country’s export portfolio and insulate the economy from shock during difficult times. While meats are not incredibly profitable, neither are they prone to sudden declines. Consequently, the governments of developed nations provide support for meat production. In 2020, the world’s top meat exporters were the United States (USD 18.15 billion), Brazil (USD 15.821 billion), Australia (USD 10.41 billion), the Netherlands (USD 9.72 billion), and Spain (USD 9.65 billion). The top ten was completed by Germany, Canada, Poland, New Zealand, and Denmark.
Russia exports modest volumes of meat, but growth in both production and exports give cause for optimism. Moscow is a hub for meat production, with 15 large and medium-sized meat producers that boosted output 70% in the last year alone. Local meat exports are performing just as well.
“In the first half of 2021, Moscow-based companies exported finished meat products to 18 countries and saw their export sales up 20.7% year-on-year,” says Alexander Prokhorov, head of Moscow’s department for investment and industrial policy. “Local exporters sell meat products to 24 countries, with Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, China, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan leading the list.”
According to data from the Mosprom Center for Export Support, poultry and poultry offal made up almost half of local companies’ meat exports in 2020 (USD 40.78 million), and frozen beef came in second at USD 12.84 million. Moscow’s total meat exports have almost doubled from USD 44.93 million in 2017 to USD 81.76 million in 2020.
Local companies exported USD 57.46 in meat in the first half of 2021. “Frozen beef showed the most significant growth, with exports jumping from USD 3.31 million in the first half of 2019 to USD 11.05 million in the first half of 2021,” Prokhorov notes.
Meat or Meat Products?
While frozen meat is a stable export product, it is also a raw material in the value chain that leaves little room for higher profits or more jobs. High value-added meat products are a different story, however, as confirmed by the 20-year experience of Dymov, a large Moscow-based company making sausages and ready-to-cook products. With three processing plants and four animal production sites, the company takes over 100 tons of meat through each step from boning to vacuum packing on a daily basis.
In addition to its domestic sales, Dymov exports meat products to other countries in the Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan). A facility in Israel has been producing meat products using Dymov’s technology and brand for over ten years.
“We see Asia as a promising region for our exports and plan to expand there over the next five years, with a focus on China, Vietnam, and Mongolia, where consumers may find our products,” says Dymov finance director Anatoly Shutka. “Asian consumers have relatively strong purchasing power, and our cold smoked and cooked smoked sausages are popular in foreign markets.”
While Dymov has the resources to promote its products abroad, it also uses resources provided by the city government, such as the Mosprom Center, which assists export-oriented companies. The Center’s experts analyze target markets for local companies, help them devise effective export strategies, conduct business missions where local businesses can find foreign buyers, and make it easier for companies to participate in international trade shows.
In June 2021, Mosprom organized an in-person trade show in Azerbaijan featuring local agro-industrial companies. According to Shutka, attending the trade show helped the company make new connections in Azerbaijan. For newer businesses, the event was an opportunity to present their products and get a better idea of what Azeri customers are looking for.
Obstacles and Opportunities
For Moscow’s meat exporters, purchasing foreign equipment and raw materials can be risky: logistical problems are common, and the volatile ruble exchange rate and inflation create additional uncertainty.
But they also see a range of opportunities. For example, the numbers of livestock and poultry raised in Russia are growing, which reduces the nation’s need for imports. According to data from the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, domestic meat production was up 3.1% in 2020. With access to graduates from quality universities, Moscow is well-placed to process meat raised in other regions.
Local companies are also eying opportunities to increase their exports. Although Russia has a gross domestic product four times greater than that of the Netherlands when measured with purchasing power parity, it exports almost one-twelfth as much meat. Russia also has infinitely more space for raising animals and a larger labor force, and it is located in proximity to large Asian markets that are willing to import meat and poultry products. All of that potential is just waiting for companies to use it.