Russia to resume Brazilian and U.S. pork imports in March

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Russia plans to resume pork imports from Brazil and the United States in March to compensate for falling supplies from the European Union, Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service (VPSS) said on Wednesday.

Russia banned most meat imports from the United States and Canada early last year because of concerns over the use of the feed additive ractopamine. Supplies from Brazil were limited in 2011 over concerns related to its safety monitoring system.

"We will allow supplies from firms which guarantee us that they don't use ractopamine," VPSS spokesman Alexei Alekseenko said, adding that a list of such companies has not yet been approved.

Russia needs to increase pork supplies from Brazil and the U.S. after it limited imports from the EU following an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Lithuania in January. The EU described the decision as "disproportionate." 

Brazil and Canada have indicated that they would like to increase pork supplies to Russia, Alekseenko said. Before the enforced reduction on EU imports, Russia was buying about a quarter of the EU's annual pork exports.

Supplies from Canada are expected to resume this year after an inspection by the VPSS, the date of which has not yet been set yet, Alekseenko added.

Ractopamine is a growth stimulant used to make meat leaner. It is banned in some countries because of concerns it could remain in the meat and cause health problems, despite scientific evidence showing it to be safe.

Russia imported 1.2 million tonnes of red meat, worth $4.6 billion, from countries outside the Commonwealth of Independent States in 2013, according to official customs data. Poultry imports reached 404,100 million tonnes, worth $0.6 billion. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by David Goodman)



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