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Russian ban could hit home for pork producers

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Manitoba pork producers may be negatively affected by Russia's decision to ban the importation of meat products from Canada.

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Manitoba pork producers may be negatively affected by Russia's decision to ban the importation of meat products from Canada. Photo Store

These little piggies are going to market, but not if the market’s in Russia.

Manitoba Pork Council board chair Karl Kynoch said Russia is the fourth largest importer of  Canadian pork, so it’s an important market. Russia’s recent decision to ban food imports from Canada and other countries that have levied trade sanctions against Russia due to the conflict in Ukraine will definitely have some impact on Manitoba’s  approximately 575 hog producers, including operations in the RMs of Cartier and Macdonald.

"Russia is a pretty significant market," Kynoch said.

While an average of 50 per cent of total Canadian pork production is exported, up to 85 per cent of Manitoba’s annual production leaves the country, he said.

Adding to the concern over the ban, which could last up to a year, is the fact that Canada was on the way to possibly setting an annual record for pork exports. Kynoch said Russia imported about 49 million tonnes of Canadian pork in 2012, then the level dropped to 260 million tonnes in 2013. But imports for the first five months of this year have totalled approximately 215 million tonnes.

Pork prices are currently high because of strong international demand, but this situation will change if Canadian exporters aren’t able to find new customers for the pork that would have been shipped to Russia.

"We’re always looking for new markets," Kynoch said.

He said Canadian pork exporters are known for the high quality of their product, and he hopes that Manitoba pork exports won’t be slowed by Russia’s ban. Japan, China, South Korea and Mexico are growing markets for Canadian pork.

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