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How did pork become the main meat of Russians? And how it saved us from rising chicken prices.

Date: February 25, 2024 Time: 17:28:38

Pork prices are not rising, unlike beef. That is why it has become the most affordable “red meat” in Russia.

Photo: Yulia PYKHALOVA

Part 1.

We continue to find out how Russia turned out to be a “country of meat eaters.” In addition, most citizens are sure that it is necessary to save on meat. In the last issue of KP we talked about what is happening in our country with chicken. Now it’s the pig’s turn.


“But our pork prices are barely rising,” officials were often heard saying when asked: what about chicken and egg prices? In fact, since 2015, according to official Rosstat data, the price of pork has increased by less than 30%. And since the beginning of January of this year, prices have completely fallen.

Pig farming is an amazing industry for our country. No one seems to require any platform to feed Russians with affordable pork, and production is growing by 5-7% annually, despite all the difficulties. According to forecasts, 2024 could well become our “year of the pig.” Production is expected to increase in the worst case by another 4-5%, i.e. clearly ahead of other types of meat. And the prices of the cheapest chicken are already very close to those of pork.


“Pig breeding is the main driver (growth accelerator – Ed.) of meat production in the Russian Federation,” is the first thing that draws attention to the topic of pigs on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture From Russia. It’s hard to argue with that. If in 2000 the average Russian ate 12 kilograms of pork a year, now it is more than 30 kilograms.

Due to this, together with the increase in chicken consumption, it turned out that in Russia we eat a very decent amount of meat per capita, at the level of rich Western countries – more than 80 kilograms on average per person per year.

The attitude of experts towards this fact is different. If we eat poultry meat only a little more than the rational norm recommended by the Ministry of Health (the norm is 30 kg per year per person, actually 35 kg), then we clearly overeat pork: the norm is 18 kg , but in fact, more than 30. And this is how we compensate for the malnutrition of beef: we consume 13 kilos a year instead of the recommended 20.

On the other hand, as alternative experts maintain, it is better when people eat some meat and still get animal protein than none at all. After all, beef has become almost a delicacy, if you look at the price.


Photo: Dmitry POLUKHIN


As experts explain, pork prices at a decent level help maintain good grain harvests in recent years, which reduces the cost of feed. It is true that the share of cereals in the cost of chicken is quite large. But it didn’t help.

– Regarding pork, we have a balance between internal consumption and production. And the balance between consumption and exports,” explains Anatoly Tikhonov, director of the Center for International Agribusiness and Food Security of the Russian Academy of National Economy (RANEPA). – There is overproduction in the pork production sector. Because of this, prices grow slowly, as the market is saturated and competition between manufacturers is high. But such a situation may lead to the fact that there will be no incentive to further expand production. And then what happened with chicken can happen “suddenly”: demand suddenly grew sharply and exceeded supply, and prices skyrocketed. But in the case of pork, fortunately, production growth continues. Because producers see very good export prospects for this type of meat. And this gives confidence: everything produced will be sold in any case and without losses.

Our pork exports began to grow rapidly in 2020. So far it is small: according to the National Union of Pig Breeders, about 5%. But the prospects are really good: China opened its market to suppliers from Russia next year.

– At the same time, the growth in exports is mainly due to bacon and offal (legs, ears, tails, snouts, etc. – Ed.). That is, we basically sell abroad what we do not consume much at home,” says Anatoly Tikhonov. – Who eats this? Vietnam, Hong Kong, Mongolia and other Asian countries, including China, that have opened up to us (see “KP Help”).

In the Russian market, brisket is in the greatest demand. And also parts of the pork carcass such as ham (for frying and baking), carbonate, neck.

Only numbers

Photo: Dmitry POLUKHIN


“The increase in pork production reduces for our consumers the negative price trend that we now see in general on the meat market,” confirmed the head of the National Meat Association, Sergei Yushin, at a meeting of the Farmers’ Club “AGROSOYUZ KP”, a new project of Komsomolskaya Pravda.

We translate with our fingers. As experts explain, different types of meat are interchangeable. Therefore, the increase in pork production last year did not allow chicken meat prices to completely skyrocket. For chicken prices, the average cost of pork is a natural upper limit. As soon as they begin to approach this limit, some buyers among those who are permitted by religion and other beliefs immediately switch to pork. And naturally, demand for chicken falls. In addition, beef prices could rise even further if admirers of “red meat” did not have an alternative in the form of pork. But we will talk about beef in the next “series”.


Photo: Dmitry POLUKHIN


Everything is fine because the state helps.

The Ministry of Agriculture cites government support measures as one of the main reasons for the success of our pig farmers. There are preferential “short-term” loans for the purchase of cereals, vitamins, amino acids and other feed items. There are also preferential investment loans for the construction, reconstruction and modernization of pigsties, as well as feed factories and workshops and the purchase of equipment for them. Directly in 2023, according to the department, production grew “due to the modernization of enterprises and the implementation of new investment projects.”


Ears, paws and tails – these are our exports!

According to the federal Agroexport center, in 2023 exports of pork and by-products from Russia increased by almost 70% to a record 255 thousand tons (less than 5% of production).

Vietnam became the main buyer (up almost 90% compared to 2022). About half of the supply is by-products (legs, tails, etc.).

In second place is Belarus. What goes there is meat in different forms; byproducts represent less than 20%.

Serbia, Mongolia and Hong Kong were also among the top five buyers. The growth in supplies to Mongolia (almost 40%) and Hong Kong (almost 60%) was mainly due to spoils.


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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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