Russia imported 1.7 times less meat in the first half of this year compared to the similar period from 2017, down to 203.5 thousand tons, according to the Federal Customs Service, as reported by Meatinfo.ru.
In the first six months of 2018, pork imports amounted 36.3 thousand tons, down from 147.7 thousand tons in January-June last year.
Russia's poultry meat imports amounted to 32.8 thousand tons in the mentioned period, down from 52.6 thousand tons in the first half of 2017.
Beef imports decreased from 152.6 thousand tons in January-June 2017 to 134.4 thousand tons in the first half of this year.
Including the country's meat trade with countries from the Eurasian Economic Union, imports were at the level of 322.5 thousand tons down from 433.2 thousand tons a year earlier, according to the National Union of Pig breeders (NSS) estimates.
Yury Kovalev, CEO of the NSS, said that by the end of 2018, the volume of Russia's meat imports will be significantly lower than 1 million tons. Still, Kovalev considers that a level of 5-10% domestic consumption will be covered by pork imports.
"No country with a developed sector of the agro-industrial complex wants to completely get rid of food imports. The main goal is a large number of exports with a positive balance (Brazil, Canada), well, or at least with zero balance (US and EU)," Kovalev explained. "I think that even here Russia has an ambitious but realistic goal - to enter the top-10 world agro-industrial exporters, having at least a zero foreign trade balance."
On the other hand, Russia meat exports as of July 8 were 29.4% higher than a year earlier (excluding trade with countries from the Eurasian Economic Union) - reaching 107.3 thousand tons. In shipments, poultry predominated, amounting to 68.2 thousand tons (+ 31.8% compared to the same period from 2017). Sales of pork abroad increased by 24.5% to 36.5 thousand tonnes, beef from 1.8 thousand tonnes to 2.6 thousand tonnes. The NSS estimates the volume of external sales taking into account the countries from the Eurasian Economic Union at 149.1 thousand tons compared to 104.5 thousand tons in the first half of 2017.