Russian meat processors have changed sausage recipes, abandoning the use of poultry meat in favour of pork wherever possible, Julia Parfenova, chairman of the Russian Union of meat processors, told the state publication Russian Gazette.
There is a lack of wholesale poultry, resulting in a price hike in this market segment. Russian meat processors now purchase poultry meat for 190 rubles per kg (US$2.09), while in retail, it is offered at 165 rubles (US$1.81) per kg.
“Chicken is shipped to retail chains in the first place and to processors, already on a residual basis,” explained Panferova. She stated that the reason for the temporary shortage is a surge in the consumption of chicken, which is still the most affordable source of protein. As a result, the demand for chicken in Russia has grown more than its production.
A joint study conducted by the Russian think tank NTech and agricultural bank Rosselhozbank showed that the average price of wholesale chicken meat in Russia at the beginning of July was around 175 rubles per kg (US$1.92). Over the past year, the price jumped by 24%. Meanwhile, pork is offered at a price of around 127 rubles (US$1.4) per kg, only 8% more than in the same period of the previous year.
Yuri Kovalev, chairman of the Russian Union of pork producers, also admitted that pork has become cheaper than poultry in Russia, adding that this paradoxical situation is expected to be temporary.
The Russian Agricultural Ministry said that it sees no reason for concern, claiming that the situation in the Russian food market is stable, and price hikes in most cases correspond to general inflation trends.
Ekaterina Luchkina, head of the Russian Meat processors association, told local publication Agroinvestor that the beginning of the barbecue season, as well as the holiday season, could provoke a rise in demand for poultry meat, while outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza could, to some extent, hamper domestic production, though it is not reflected in the official statistical data yet. Since the beginning of the year, 54 bird flu outbreaks have been recorded in the country.
“Russia is no exception – the situation is difficult all over the world and is already acquiring panzootic features. In the first half of the year, 60 countries reported new outbreaks of bird flu to the World Organization for Animal Health,” she said, adding that in some regions like Kursk and Voronezh, poultry production slightly decreased since the beginning of the year. “In any case, it is not worth overdramatising the situation,” Luchkina claimed.