Olymel seeking other markets for Russia-bound pork

Olymel, whose Drummondville, Que. bacon plant is shown here, plans to seek other destinations for pork originally booked to ship to Russia. (Drumco.ca)

Canadian meat packer Olymel plans to seek other buyers for pork which, until Thursday, was destined for the now-closed Russian market.

Olymel, the meat processing arm of Quebec’s Coop Federee, produced frozen pork for export to Russia at its plants at Red Deer, Alta. and Vallee-Jonction, Que.

Russia had been the second-largest pork market for Olymel so far this year, the company said in a release Thursday.

“While it is powerless to change the decision by the Moscow regime, Olymel will make every effort to find other outlets for products that were destined for the Russian market in order to reduce the impact of this decision,” the company said.

Russia on Thursday launched a one-year ban on imports of agrifoods such as meat, fruits, vegetables and dairy goods produced in Canada, the U.S., the European Union, Australia and Norway, to retaliate against “countries that have decided to impose economic sanctions on Russian legal entities and/or physical individuals.”

Canada has imposed sanctions on a gradually expanding list of entities and people with ties to the Putin regime since mid-March, following Russia’s occupation of the Crimean peninsula and Russia’s “provocative military activity in eastern Ukraine.”

Olymel’s Red Deer, Vallee-Jonction and St-Hyacinthe plants had still been approved, up until Thursday, to ship to Russia. Several other pork plants across Canada, including Olymel’s Princeville slaughter and cutting plant, had already lost access in recent years due to Russia’s enforcement of a ban on imported meat from animals treated with the growth-promoting drug ractopamine (Paylean).

“Important investments”

Eleveurs de porcs du Quebec, the province’s hog farmer group, noted in a separate release Thursday that Quebec’s hog and pork sectors had made “numerous efforts and important investments” in recent years to meet the Russian market’s specific needs.

Apart from the Olymel sites, four other slaughter and/or further-processing plants in Quebec had still been on Russia’s approved list of Canadian pork providers up until Thursday.

Quebec, the group noted, is the province of origin for about 65 per cent of Canada’s pork exports — and Russia alone had been the third-biggest export market among about 100 countries taking Quebec pork.

Such challenges posed by export markets go to show, the Eleveurs de porcs said, that Quebec’s hog industry needs to continue to restructure and invest in marketing, innovation and animal welfare to meet those markets’ needs.

To stay competitive, particularly in the current context, the sector should also be able to count on support from governments, the group added. — AGCanada.com Network


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