A beef and lamb trade deal expected to be worth up to £100 million over three years has been finalised in Moscow by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.
The deal marks the end of an eighteen year ban on British beef and lamb imposed by Russia following the outbreak of BSE in the mid 1990’s. It includes a £7 million contract for lamb meat and opens the door to a further £2 million contract for beef offal.
Speaking from Moscow, Mr Paterson said: "I’m thrilled that our negotiations with Russia have proved successful. This is a credit to our vets and producers who have all worked amazingly hard to meet the required export standards. With the inclusion of offal as part of the deal, the gates of opportunity are now well and truly open for our meat industry.
"The progress we have made is testament to the high standards of production and traceability for which British products are famous. This deal is great news for farmers, exporters and the UK economy as a whole.
Deputy Prime Minister Dvorkovich hailed the agreement saying that: "The negotiations were successful and constructive."
He also looked to improving framework within the European Union and Customs Union.
Jean-Pierre Garnier the Export Manager of Eblex, the beef and sheep division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), which works on behalf of British red meat producers said: "UK farmers produce some of the best quality beef and lamb anywhere in the world. Our food is renowned across the globe for its quality and we ensure the highest standards on safety and animal welfare are maintained.
We’re extremely pleased that this opportunity has opened up thanks to the close collaboration with Defra. It’s still early days in this new market and competition is high, but I’m keen that our industry grasps this opportunity with both hands.
The deal announced today will see ABP Dorset in Yetminster supply lamb to a Russian distributor in an agreement worth £ 7 million per year.
Other such deals for the export of lamb, beef offal and prime beef are expected as the number of plants approved for export to Russia increases.
Russian importers are indeed keen to diversify their supply of prime lamb and quality grass-fed British beef.
Food and drink exports from the UK to Russia have grown by over 220% since 2000. They are now worth more than £121,562,000.
With Russia’s economic growth and increasing demand for western food and drink, there is huge potential to increase exports to the country still further.
The trade deal struck today will provide a lasting legacy of opportunity for British food and farming businesses.
The food and drink industry contributed £96.1 billion to the UK economy last year and it’s the largest manufacturing sector we have.
Food and drink exports are now valued at £18.2 billion, an increase of nearly 50% in the past decade.