Russia is spending billions of dollars on the development of the local poultry industry as the demand for chicken increases. The country aims to limit its dependence on imports and squeeze US suppliers from their biggest export market, reports Moscow Times.
This expansion could halve the share of imports in Russian poultry consumption by 2012 and push the $55 bln US poultry sector, which sent nearly a quarter of its poultry exports to Russia in 2008, to seek alternative markets.
"We are aiming to have 10, maybe 15% of imported meat," said Vladimir Fisinin, president of the Russian Poultry Breeders' Union. This compares with 36% in 2008.
Viktor Zubkov, one of two first deputies to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has even more ambitious plans. Last month, he reportedly forecast that Russia would be self-sufficient in poultry meat and pork by 2012.
The investment is part of Moscow's plan to reduce dependence on poultry, which is gaining in popularity versus more expensive beef.
With jobless rates at an eight-year peak, self-sufficiency in poultry, analysts say, would create jobs and help ensure that Russia avoids the crises faced by importers when food prices rise.
Russia produced 2.5 mln t of poultry meat in 2008, or about 64% of what it consumed. This year, it plans to raise combined poultry and pork meat volumes by 550,000 t, the Agriculture Ministry said.
The ministry says state banks are expected to provide loans of 72 bln rubles ($2.23 bln) this year for building new animal and poultry farms and slaughterhouses, as well as another 74 bln rubles to complete projects already underway. These loans, particularly in the economic crisis, will be crucial to the success of Russia's poultry drive.