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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Poultry Farms More Efficient But Still Lag Behind Imports

Russia's acting agriculture minister, Viktor Khlystun, said Wednesday that domestic poultry farmers are becoming more efficient but have a long way to go to catch up with U.S. imports.

Trade sources said the imported chicken products -- called "Bush legs" in the early 1990s when U.S. President George Bush was promoting U.S.-Russia trade -- will remain a major part of the national diet.

Khlystun, quoted by Itar-Tass, said Russian poultry farmers had a chance of driving U.S. chicken off the market. But a Moscow trade source close to both the Russian and U.S. poultry industries dismissed the idea.

Khlystun conceded that major obstacles had to be overcome in order to compete with low-cost foreign producers.

"The [worker] collectives at some poultry factories use three times as much electricity and feed per unit of production," Itar-Tass quoted him as saying. "They don't think about reducing production costs."

The trade source said total Russian poultry consumption in 1997 was 1.745 million tons. The price was about $1,000 a ton last year, for a total market value of around $1.7 billion to $1.75 billion.

Russian production accounted for 545,000 tons, total imports standing at 1.2 million tons.

The United States claimed two-thirds of imports, with a share of around 800,000 tons worth $800 million, easily making Russia the biggest single market for U.S. poultry products. The rest came mainly from Europe and Brazil.

The trade source estimated the Russian meat industry contracted 60 percent since 1991 as subsidies were removed while it had not yet been reformed.