“The Russian people are becoming more aware of high-quality beef; they want this product.”
A one-week visit by Russian meat industry executives to Canada wrapped up with high praise for the Canadian cattle and beef industry last month.
For all the delegates on the mission, it was their first trip to Canada and their first look at the Canadian industry. “First, I have to say that the Canadian beef industry is a large-scale industry and one that is very technologically advanced,” said mission delegate Sergey Yushin, chief executive officer of the National Meat Association in Moscow. “When you look at Canada’s competitiveness compared to many other countries, Canada produces and supplies high-quality beef to customers all over the world.
The Russian visit was one of a regular series of VIP Beef Buyers Awareness Missions conducted by the Canada Beef Export Federation (CBEF) as part of its strategy to expand international sales of Canadian beef. The mission was made up of seven high-level representatives from Russia’s food service and retail sectors as well as importers and distributors. The group visited packers, processors, trading companies, feedlots, ranches, cattle associations and government agencies in Alberta.
Asked about the opportunities for Canadian beef in Russia, Yushin said that Russia is a big importer of beef, last year importing more than 800,000 tonnes of boneless beef. “We also increased our imports of prime cuts for restaurants, hotels and retail,” he said. “The Russian people are becoming more aware of high-quality beef; they want this product, and I think this is one of the areas where we can find much in common with the Canadian industry and where we can find ways to co-operate.”
“Certainly the Russian market is not easy for any country,” he said. “Russian national veterinary standards are very strict, and only qualified suppliers can be approved to supply our country. But I think most of the plants I’ve seen here are absolutely ready to supply beef to Russia. My message to Canadian suppliers would be to respect the national standards and rules and always be in communication with your buyers and importers from Russia.”
The Federation’s Export Members have set the goal of exporting 10,000 tonnes of Canadian beef to Russia in 2009; 15,000 tonnes by 2010; and 20,000 tonnes by 2015.