Russia may well become a site for western meat producers to dump stocks at low prices, warned Isif Rogov, chairman of the Russian Meat Union.

Rogov, who is also Rector of the Moscow State University of Applied Biotechnology, added that Russia needs to strengthen protection of its domestic meat market to ensure that Russian producers are not adversely affected by foreign dumping at low prices.

Western producers are anxious to sell on supplies of meat after consumption has fallen dramatically in many European countries, reflecting consumer fears of BSE. They are attracted to the Russian market because of the subsidies available on export meat from the EU, which reach US$500 per ton.

Rogov has pointed to the need to raise the subsidies on beef imports, commenting: “Production costs of Russian meat are higher; it cannot compete against subsidized imports.”

He explained that currently the situation is not drastic but it could soon escalate without new measures to prevent dumping. “So far the epidemic of mad cow disease in Europe has not seriously influenced the situation on the domestic meat market, but there are unpleasant signs.”