Russia’s largest poultry producer, Cherkizovo, has suspended poultry exports to china after a product package the company supplied to the country tested positive for the Covid-19 genome, the company said in a statement on its website.
Cherkizovo Group said they intended to launch a comprehensive investigation to pinpoint when the virus landed on the shipping packaging in the long logistics process. “The Covid-19 genome was identified during the inspection of external shipping packaging of frozen products at a Chinese port several months after these products entered the logistics chain. No traces of the virus were detected in the poultry product,” the company said. Cherkizovo Group has been exporting to China since 2019, shipping mostly poultry by-products and chicken feet. Cherkizovo will do its utmost to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and resume exports to China.
The Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor also initiated an investigation to find out how the products’ package was contaminated. This is not the first time Covid-19 traces are found on products entering China from Russia. A similar incident was reported in November 2020 when the package of products from Russia and Argentina tested positive. In late 2020, China banned Russian raw fish import after several inspections during the previous months found samples of the coronavirus on the product package. Russian fishermen claimed the decision could result in billions of losses since the Russian fish export to China totalled US$ 3.2 billion in 2019. In 2019, Russia exported 62,600 tonnes of poultry to China, representing a value of US$ 143.4 million, the Russian Agricultural Ministry estimated.
In 2020, Cherkizovo produced 794,000 tonnes of live-weight meat, 12% more than its closest competitor and 3.7% more compared to the previous year. With that it is Russia’s biggest broiler meat producer, the company said in a separate statement. The 2020 growth in broiler meat production was driven by the capacity ramp-up at the factories in Kursk and Altai, a major focus on chicken health and quality, and volume increase delivered by all Cherkizovo Group factories. Last year was very successful for the company’s poultry segment, with greater sales of Petelinka and Kurinoe Tsarstvo products and increased poultry exports, primarily to China.