Eblex urges UK chief vet visit to Russia

Eblex has called for Defra to send the UK’s chief veterinary officer (CVO) on an urgent mission to Russia to sort out market issues preventing access to the country’s beef and lamb market.

Speaking at the Eblex export conference in Stoneleigh yesterday (26 June), export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier pointed out that Russia lifted its 16-year ban on UK beef and lamb in November 2012, but so far the UK has “not sold a kilo of meat to Russia”.

He told Meatinfo.co.uk there were a number of issues limiting access to the Russian market, including problems around offal and bone-in lamb, both key products for export to the Russian market. Additionally, only two abattoirs/cutting plants have been approved by Russian veterinary authorities and no cold stores have yet been approved.

“Today we are making a call to Defra to send the CVO to Russia as soon as possible to sort out these issues, and not let them drag on. Things have to be taken seriously and urgently by government in order to address the situation,” he said.

He added that Eblex would be sending Defra minister David Heath MP a letter seeking Ministerial support in the negotiations with Russia.

Unique opportunities

Garnier told delegates at the conference that Russia offered unique opportunities as an export market because it had a deficit in beef and sheep meat, and needed to keep the price of agricultural commodities high in order to attract investment and rebuild its production capacity.

“Domestic market prices in Russia are higher than most markets in the world,” he said, pointing out that the average import price in Russia was £3,000/tonne in 2013.

He added that there was good demand for ox livers, hearts and tongues, “which is exactly what we are trying to sell”. Beef trimmings, shins and steak meat are also in demand in Russia, as are all lamb cuts.

“I don’t think we can afford not to sell meat to Russia,” he said.

High priority

Eblex sector director Nick Allen said that improving access to Russia was a key part of Eblex’s export strategy.

“Russia is still a challenge for us in terms of access. As far as the export market goes, it is an extremely high prirotiy for Eblex. It is our top priority,” he said.

The government has claimed it wants to offer the industry assistance in improving access to emerging export markets such as Russia.

Speaking via a pre-recorded video message at the conference, Heath said: “We are absolutey committed to food and farming; we see it as absolutely vital to the economy... I am determined to see the UK get the share of the global export market that I feel we deserve.”


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