Russia may be fading as an import market for chicken meat, but the growth in the domestic poultry industry behind the change is opening up an expanding demand for foreign eggs.
Russia's broiler industry will produce a record 3.05m tonnes of meat this year, up 120,000 tonnes year on year, and a bigger increase than previously expected, the US Department of Agriculture bureau in Moscow said.
And it will rise even further next year, to 3.30m tonnes, the bureau said in its first forecast for 2014, noting falling grain prices, thanks to better harvests both internationally and in Russia itself, and state financial backing.
Russia's farm ministry in March approved a 55.2bn rouble ($1.7bn) programme to support an increase in overall domestic poultry output to 4.0m tonnes in 2015.
Meat imports fall
The extra volumes will enable producers - of which Prioskolye is the biggest, with output of 453,000 tonnes in 2012, ahead of London-listed Cherkizovo, on a little under 300,000 tonnes – to more than match growing Russian demand for chicken, keeping imports in check.
Russian broiler meat imports, which peaked at a record 1.29m tonnes in 2001, will come in at 540,000 tonnes this year, and fall to 530,000 tonnes in 2014, the bureau said.
Russia, the top importer until 2010, will rank sixth this year, behind Japan, Saudi Arabia, the European Union Mexico and Iraq, on USDA estimates.
However, the expansion in the broiler chicken flock has outgrown the ability of domestic egg producers to meet their needs, creating a buoyant import market in hatching eggs.
"The growing Russian broiler sector requires an increased number of hatching eggs, which Russian suppliers are unable to provide because of production limitations," the bureau said, quoting industry research.
Russia's poultry producers' association "has estimated that the share of imported hatching eggs is expected to increase from nearly 12% in 2013 to nearly 14% of the industry's total hatching egg consumption in 2015."