As a result of better supplies of feed, the Russian pig crop is expected to expand faster and the slaughter rate and size will return to normal levels in 2005.

Russian imports in 2005 are forecast at 500,000 metric tons for pork and 700,000 metric tons for beef. Strong exports from Ukraine and other Commonwealth of Independent States countries are playing a growing role due to their preferential access to the Russian market. However, Russian imports are not forecast to completely fill market changes relating to the European Union and its expansion.

Pork consumption in Russia is forecast to grow by 2 percent in 2005, while beef consumption will remain stable. Consumption forecasts for pork in 2003 were reduced due to forecast lower pork imports. The steady growth in the pork and beef prices will continue to dampen Russian meat consumption and force consumers to purchase lower quality meat products or shift to other competing products such as poultry or fish.

Russia was once a promising export market for U.S. pork before the Russian economy fell apart. With the economic recovery, it’s unclear how the political trade barriers in Europe will affect U.S. pork trade to Russia. The potential still exists for Russia to be a significant market for U.S. pork at some point.