Russia to Ban Meat from Most Canadian, Mexican Suppliers
- Apr. 07 2013 00:00
- Last edited 17:29
Russiaáplans to ban meat imports from most Canadian and Mexican suppliers from April 8 over concerns about the use of the feed additive ractopamine,áthe Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection Service said on Friday.
"More than 50 percent of Canadian companies will be excluded from the list of suppliers," said Alexei Alekseyenko, a spokesman for the watchdog.
Russiaáalso plans to ban about 80 percent of Mexican meat importers starting April 8, Interfax news agency reported earlier on Friday, citing the head of the agency,áSergei Dankvert.
Canadaáwas the largest pork supplier toáRussiaáand accounted for 25 percent of its imports in 2012,áSergei Yushin, head ofáthe National Meat Association, told Reuters. About 5 percent of imported beef came toáRussiaáfromáMexicoálast year.
The agency's list of Canadian pork suppliers, published on its website, fsvps.ru, includes about 88 companies, while the list foráMexicoáincludes 20 names. A spokesman for the watchdog could not comment on whether these lists had been updated.
Used as a growth stimulant to make meat leaner, ractopamine is banned in some countries over concerns that residues could remain in the meat and cause health problems, despite scientific evidence indicating that it is safe.
Since December,áRussiaáhas only accepted meat from Canadian livestock that were never fed ractopamine — which was already a tiny portion of the cattle herd, said John Masswohl, director of government and international relations at the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.
Now,áRussiaáwill only accept meat from ractopamine-free animals that are processed in Canadian plants that do not also handle livestock that have been raised on the stimulant, and such plants do not exist ináCanada, Masswohl said.
"You're taking a very bad existing situation, which limits (beef) trade to almost nothing, and making it nothing."
Cargill Ltd andáJBS USA HoldingsáInc, are the biggest beef packers ináCanada.
"Our government is disappointed that despite our collaborative efforts, theáRussian governmentáis moving forward with this measure not rooted in science," said Canadian Agriculture MinisteráGerry Ritz, in an email statement to Reuters. "We continue to work aggressively with Canadian industry to restore their access into the important Russian market."
Russiaáis a small, but fast-growing market for Canadian beef, worth about C$15 million ($14.7 million) in 2011.áRussiaáis the third-largest market for Canadian pork, worth about C$500 million a year, saidáJacques Pomerleau, executive director ofáCanada Pork International, a marketing promotion agency.
Canadaáhas about a dozen pork-processing plants that only accept ractopamine-free pigs, but there is no guarantee thatáRussiaáwill include all of them on its revised supplier list, Pomerleau said.
Canada's two biggestápork processors,áOlymeláand Maple Leaf Foods, have some facilities that should be eligible, Pomerleau said.
"We're working very hard to meetáRussia's expectations," saidáOlymeláspokesmanáRichard Vigneault. "It's a very important market for us."
Spokespersons for Cargill and JBS could not be immediately reached, and Maple Leaf declined comment.
Spokesmen foráMexico's Economy and Agriculture ministries said they were still reviewing the situation.
The Feb. 11 Russian ban on U.S. beef, pork andáturkeyábecause of the feed additive remains in place.áRussiaábarredáturkeyáimports from theáUnited Statesádespite a U.S. poultry trade group's finding that U.S.áturkeyácompanies that ship toáRussiaádo not use ractopamine.
More than $600 million worth of U.S. beef, pork andáturkeyáis exported toáRussiaáannually. The ban came amid trade tensions between the two countries.
The U.S. Senate last year approved a bill to expand bilateral trade. At the same time it sought to punish Russian human rights violators, leading to speculation that the ban on U.S. meat was in retaliation, whicháRussiaádenied.
"Basically we're just watching the situation and working with the industry and U.S. trade officials on a solution," saidáJoe Schuele, communications director for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, a trade association for U.S. meat producers.
Russiaáwill cover its meat demand by supplies from South America, mainlyáBrazil, Alekseyenko said.
Russiaáimported 1.32 million tons of red meat, excluding offal, worth $5.12 billion from countries outside theáCommonwealth of Independent Statesáin 2012, official customs data showed.