Brazil looms as biggest food supplier to Russia

Representatives of two hemispheric giants — Brazil in the West, Russia in the East — met in Moscow on Friday (Aug. 8) to arrange for an increased flow of food to Russia, in the wake of the Kremlin’s ban on U.S. and European food imports.

(For background in Progreso Weekly, click here and here.)

Miguel Griesbach de Pereira Franco, Brazil’s chargé d’affaires, met with Sergei A. Dankvert, head of Russia’s agency for the control of food imports, known as Rosselkhoznadzor, to define the parameters of Brazil’s contributions.

Earlier this week, two Brazilian vice ministers of Agriculture — Marcelo Junqueira Ferraz and Rodrigo Figueiredo — held intensive consultations with Russian import-control officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin tours a Moscow supermarket earlier this week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin tours a Moscow supermarket earlier this week.

During Friday’s meeting, it was agreed that Brazilian foodstuffs should begin flowing into Russia next month, so speed is of the essence.

Russia is very interested in beef, pork, poultry, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, Dankvert told De Pereira. If the delivery logistics can be simplified and the prices of container transportation can be lowered, Russia would authorize a greater number of food suppliers.

Russia wants to import 200,000 tons of Brazilian poultry this year, almost three times the total volume it imported in the past two years.

No problem, replied this week Francisco Turra, president of the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein. Brazil can cope “easily” with such a request, he said.

Russia has already given sanitary approval to 89 cold-storage plants used by producers of Brazilian beef, pork, dairy and poultry. More clearances are expected as requirements warrant.

Miguel Griesbach de Pereira Franco
Miguel Griesbach de Pereira Franco

Russia is the main market for Brazilian meats. In 2013, it imported 303,000 tons of beef and 134,000 tons of pork, according to official figures. Beef sales amounted to $1.2 billion.

Brazil’s Vice President, Michel Temer, and the minister of Agriculture, Neri Geller, plan to attend the World Food exhibition in Moscow in mid-September, De Pereira told Dankvert. At that time, a large number of Brazilian food suppliers are expected to sign contracts with the Russian government.

Relations between Russia and Brazil improved notably during July’s summit of BRICS, the economic bloc formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, held in Brasilia. President Vladimir Putin held cordial meetings with President Dilma Rousseff, assuring each other of greater cooperation in all spheres.

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Also on Friday, Dankvert met with Paraguayan Ambassador Ramón Díaz Pereira to discuss an increase in the supply of beef from the current 47,000 tons. In past years, Paraguay has sent Russia as much as 140,000 tons of beef per year.

Soybeans were also on the agenda. Last year, Paraguay exported 770,000 tons to Russia, up from 130,000 tons in 2008.

[Photo above of Russia’s Sergei A. Dankvert at the negotiating table with the Brazilians.]

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