Russian visit raises hopes for export access
The potential of the Russian market opening to the UK beef and lamb trade has been given a boost, after a delegation from Russia visited the UK to inspect farms and processors.
Eight Russian vets spent a week visiting farms and facilities with Defra’s export team, as part of the process to develop potential market access for the UK.
Peter Hardwick, head of trade development for Eblex, said: “Cultivating export opportunities in developing markets is a key area for the beef and lamb sector. Russia is one of our target markets for both beef and lamb exports. As such, the visit of the Russian delegation is a step in the right direction towards the UK achieving market access.
“Ultimately, improved market access for beef and lamb in non-EU countries will help improve the UK’s ability to compete in the global arena and optimise returns for producers.”
Quality Meat Scotland, in collaboration with the Scottish Government and the Food Standard Agency, has facilitated the visit to two Scottish red meat companies who volunteered to act as showcases for the whole Scottish red meat industry.
Laurent Vernet, head of marketing at Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), who hosted a group of Russian delegates and showed them around two Scotish red meat companies, said: “The visit from the delegation was a positive next step for the industry. The delegation was particularly interested in the guarantees and levels of traceability behind our assurance scheme in Scotland, as well as the current health status of our national herd.
“Russia is the largest beef importer in the world, and we’re working with other UK Devolved Promotion Bodies and Defra as part of the Export Certification Partnership to ensure that Scotland doesn’t miss out on this future opportunity.”
Prime Minister David Cameron put red meat exports firmly on the agenda when he visited Russia in September last year, discussing the possibility of lifting restrictions, which were imposed after the BSE crisis, with key Russian officials.
Eblex has identified Russia as a top priority for market access. Russia is one of the biggest importers of beef, at more than 600,000t per year, and it is estimated that, should the ban on UK beef be lifted, it could be worth £115m in the first three years.