Russians are beginning to eat more meat

Demand for cheap pork is expected to dwarf Russian poultry sales

Russian meat consumption is set to reach 75.2kg per capita in 2017, which corresponds to the pre-crisis level of 2013 and is an increase of 2kg on 2016, according to Yuri Kovalev, chairman of the Russian Union of Pork Producers (RUPP).

Overall meat consumption in Russia has grown steadily since 2000, when it stood at 43.5kg per capita, while consumption of pork during this period has doubled to 24.7kg per capita in 2016 and a projected 25.8kg per capita in 2017, Kovalev revealed.

Since 2013, however, Russian consumers have reduced beef consumption by nearly 3kg to 13.7kg per capita in 2016 and a projected 13.6kg in 2017, RUPP estimates indicated. In 2013, pork consumption in Russia had reached a record level of 26.6kg per capita, but since that time, poultry has seen its share of the Russian consumer basket increase.

In 2017, consumption of poultry in Russia could reach 33.7kg per capita, compared to 32.5kg per capita in 2016 and nearly 30kg in 2013, RUPP estimates have shown. Combined consumption of other types of meat, including lamb and venison, has remained stable during the period, with the average per capita consumption in this segment expected to reach around 2.2kg in 2017, 0.2kg up on 2016.

Price rules the market

According to a recent study by market researcher Nielsen, Russians are generally loyal meat consumers and only 3% of the country’s citizens consider themselves to be vegetarian.

As a rule, however, consumers opt for cheaper meat – usually poultry, as in 2016 its price was RUB143 (US$2.41) per kg, compared to RUB256 (US$4.33)/kg of pork and RUB417 ($7.05)/kg of beef, Nielsen has estimated.

Price remains the most important factor for consumers, due to an ongoing fall in the purchasing power of the population. The Russian State Statistical Service has estimated that the real income of the country’s citizens dropped by 6% in 2016 compared to 2015 and by another 1.8% in the period from January-May 2017, compared to the same period last year.

During 2016, the retail price for pork fell by 8-10%, the price for poultry remained unchanged, while the price for beef grew by 4-6%, according to various estimates. Given this trend and the previous fall in pork consumption in Russia, RUPP believes consumption of pork will become the main growth driver of the domestic meat market in the next few years.

The poultry segment, by contrast, could face challenges, as the domestic market has already witnessed some oversupply in 2016, with several poultry farms going bankrupt as a result, according to the country’s analytical agency EMEAT. A possible decline in poultry consumption, due to a rise in demand for pork, could aggravate this situation.

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