Russia ready to fill China’s food gap left by US in trade war fallout



Laura Zhou | South China Morning Post

Russia’s leading meat producer has said it is ready to fill the supply gap left by the US as the world’s most populous market struggles with the double blow of a devastating swine fever epidemic and a protracted trade war.

Cherkizovo Group, the largest meat producer in Russia, began shipping poultry products to China last month, and is now looking forward to selling pork and soybeans there, according to CEO Sergey Mikhailov, in an interview with the South China Morning Post on Thursday.

Hopes that China would buy more pork, soybean and other protein products from the US were dashed last month after trade negotiations with the Trump administration fell apart. Beijing included pork and chicken on a list of retaliatory tariffs on US$60 billion worth of American products in May and China has also reportedly suspended its soybean imports from the US since then.


As a starting point, Mikhailov said his company expected to ship around 1,000 to 1,500 tonnes of poultry products, mostly chicken feet, wings and drumsticks, to the Chinese market next month, quickly rising to 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes per month.

“We estimate the potential for Russian poultry exports to China may be around 200,000 tonnes a year, and Cherkizovo alone is targeting to reach 40,000 tonnes of poultry products to China next year,” Mikhailov said, on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

As the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pork, China has been turning to other types of protein, both locally produced and imported, after a devastating outbreak of African swine fever which began in August last year.

China’s production of pork, a staple protein consumed by millions of people in the country every day, is expected to drop by 30 percent because of the epidemic, according to some estimates.

China and Russia have been seeking to increase trade in agricultural products over the past few years. Last year, trade between the two countries in agricultural products and food rose by nearly 30 percent, to US$5.23 billion – still less than 5 percent of their overall trade in 2018, which reached to a milestone of US$108 billion.

Agriculture cooperation has been high on the bilateral agenda as Beijing and Moscow seek to further cement their already close ties in the face of their strained relationships with the US.

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