ABP strikes Russian deal

A UK meat processor will be the first to benefit from a £100m beef and lamb trade deal with Russia.

The deal, announced today by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), was struck with ABP Food Group and is worth £7m a year, plus potential for an extra £2m in beef offal.

ABP Dorset in Yetminster will supply lamb to a Russian distributor, while other deals for the export of lamb, beef offal and prime beef are expected to follow as more plants are approved by the Russian authorities.

An ABP spokesman said: "ABP is excited about the opportunities to expand our exports to the Russian market. There is clearly a healthy interest from Russian consumers in quality British prime lamb and grass-fed beef.”

The general red meat export agreement was finalised in Moscow by the Russian deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich and UK environment secretary Owen Paterson, the rewards of which are expected to be reaped over three years.

Speaking from Moscow, Paterson said: “I’m thrilled that our negotiations with Russia have proved successful. This is a credit to our vets and producers, who have all worked amazingly hard to meet the required export standards. With the inclusion of offal as part of the deal, the gates of opportunity are now well and truly open for our meat industry.”

Dvorkovich said the agreement was constructive and looked upon it as a stepping stone for the improvement of European Union and Customs Union frameworks.

On behalf of UK red meat producers, export manager for Eblex Jean-Pierre Garnier commended UK farming practices, describing them as producing “some of the best quality beef and lamb anywhere in the world”.

“We’re extremely pleased that this opportunity has opened up thanks to the close collaboration with Defra. It’s still early days in this new market and competition is high, but I’m keen that our industry grasps this opportunity with both hands,” he added.

A Defra statement said Russia was keen to diversify their supply of prime lamb and quality grass-fed beef, pointing out a 220% growth in food and drink exports from the UK since 200 to £ 121,562,000.

“With Russia’s economic growth and increasing demand for Western food and drink, there is huge potential to increase exports to the country still further,” it said, adding, “Food and drink exports are now valued at £18.2bn, an increase of nearly 50% in the past decade.”

Last month Meat Trades Journal revealed that Russian officials were considering lifting barriers constricting UK beef exports, following a meeting between UK chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens and the deputy head of the Russian veterinary office (Rosselkhoznadzor) Yevgeny Nepoklonov.