After China and France settled diplomatic issues over cold cuts, it is now Russia’s turn to get its hands in the pig business.
Vexed by the Ukrainian crisis, the Russians have decided to… snob European pork.
Yes, pork again.
Charcuterie really seems at the heart of international relations these days.
Here’s what happened :
On April 8th, the EU got fed up with the Russians boycotting its pork meat and took the case to the World Trade Organisation. Here is an extract of the official EU press release:
“The EU today launched a case in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the Russian ban on imports of pigs, fresh pork and certain pig products from the EU (…) Bilateral discussions with Moscow have not brought any results thus far. Given that there seems to be no solution forthcoming, the EU has decided to resort to the WTO’s dispute settlement procedures by requesting formal consultations with Russia (…) despite the numerous outbreaks of the disease that have occurred on its own territory, Russia did not close its entire market to all domestic products. Therefore, by refusing imports from EU regions unaffected by the disease, Russia would seem to be applying double standards, treating EU products differently from other trading partners and from those produced domestically.” European Union Press Release April 8th 2014 http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-389_en.htm
African Swine Fever ?
Since January, the official reason put forward by the Russian authorities for blocking EU pork meat from entering the Russian markets is concerns regarding sanitation. They argue that there is a risk pork meat might be contaminated with African swine fever after 4 wild boars were diagnosed with it in Poland and Lithuania.
For the Europeans, this is a joke. The Russian are obviously trying to get their revenge on Europe after the Ukrainian crisis.
— Mike Redwood (@michaelredwood) March 3, 2014
The Commission accuses Poutine’s administration of using double standards as Russia still imports pork from Belarus or Mexico where there Swine fever is also an issue.
EU – Russia Pork Trade
The European Union is the first pork meat exporter in the world with about 150 million pigs – about one pig for every three person living in the EU.
Russia is the first importer of EU pork with about 700 000 tones per year, or 1,4 billion euros. So the embargo is quite problematic.
Journalists have calculated that the EU meat producers lose 4 million euros per day !
In January pork meat stock prices went down 10% to reach the historically low level of 1,24€ / kg :
Meanwhile, prices in Russia are reported to have gone up 25%.
Impact on France
Europe’s main pork producers are Germany, Spain and France.
For France alone, losing the Russian partner means a shortfall of 100 to 120 million euros. It’s a catastrophe for pork producers that have been suffering from the rise in cereal prices for years now.
In this video from 2009, pig producers entered a supermarket and bought all the pork to protest against food industry’s prices :
Luckily for France, an agreement was found to export Charcuterie to China. This should compensate at least part of the losses.