Chicken change: Russian poultry industry hit by sanctions

Chicken change: Russian poultry industry hit by sanctions
The Russian poultry industry will suffer the consequences of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. / Alexey Komarov
By bne IntelliNews October 24, 2022

The Russian poultry industry will be hit hard by the sanctions for the military invasion of Ukraine, with little alternative sources to imported feed additives, egg-hatching equipment, packaging and labels, according to the market analysis of Poultry World that sees the current crisis as “the biggest challenge Russian poultry farmers have faced since Soviet times”.

As followed by bne IntelliNews, initially post-Soviet Russia was a net importer of poultry, as in the infamous US-imported “Bush legs”, but has been able to build up a viable domestic poultry industry and expand into untapped segments such as turkey and duck meat.

In 2018, the country has become fully self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs, including poultry and eggs, the report reminds. In 2019, the Russian poultry market underwent rapid consolidation ahead of the lucrative opening of the export market to China.

But post the Ukraine invasion, “Russian poultry farmers face some problems with the supply of hatching eggs, since Russia is largely dependent on imports in this segment,” commercial director of the Russian Feedlot agency Lyubov Savkina said as cited by Poultry World. 

“Most work needs to be done in the turkey segment, as the shortage of hatching turkey eggs is estimated to be close to 50mn eggs per year,” Savkina estimated.

Russia produces 4.2bn hatching eggs and imports roughly 300mn, president of the Russian Poultry Union Vladimir Fisinin estimated. But another major vulnerability is the breeding stock, with the need to re-direct logistics to China, India, the UAE and Brazil.

By 2023, Russian authorities plan to make a new breeding centre, focused on the Smena-9 crossbreed, operational in the Moscow region in a bid to partly mitigate the dependence of the poultry industry on imported genetics, according to the report.

“Companies are working almost around the clock trying to adapt to the new conditions. It is no longer about the price at which to buy this or that, but about being able to purchase it, in principle,” executive director of the National Meat Association Sergey Yushin commented, as cited by Poultry World.

Russian poultry farmers will also need to overcome their dependence on imported equipment, with up to 80% of the installed equipment on Russian poultry farms estimated to be imported. Most of the equipment has been installed in the past five to six years, so the effect of this will be delayed.

On the consumption side, the eroded purchasing power and rising inflation is likely to cut protein consumption.