In 2020, food supplies from Russia abroad reached almost $ 31 billion – the maximum level for the entire period of observations, the federal center “Agroexport” of the Ministry of Agriculture said. According to experts, amid the coronavirus pandemic and the introduction of quarantine measures, many countries are faced with a drop in agricultural production. At the same time, according to analysts, Russian farmers were practically not affected by quarantine restrictions and continued to work, as a result of which they were able to increase sales in foreign markets. In addition, a record rise in world prices for agricultural products has become a favorable factor for national companies. Against this background, the export of food products from the country for the first time in the entire post-Soviet period exceeded the volume of imports.
In 2020, Russia increased the supply of its agricultural products abroad by 20% – up to $ 30.7 billion. The value turned out to be the maximum for the entire observation period. Such data on Tuesday, March 9, was published by the federal center “Agroexport” of the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to the ministry, just last year Russia exported 79 million tons of food. More than 150 countries have become buyers of goods.
As the managing partner of the Agro & Food Communications agency Ilya Bereznyuk told RT, Russia was able to record a record increase in the export of agricultural products against the backdrop of a sharp deterioration in the situation in the international food market. Thus, the coronavirus pandemic and the introduction of quarantine restrictions have led to a halt in food production in many countries.
“For example, in China, when entire provinces were closed, supplies were almost completely disrupted. During this period, a lot of poultry farms were damaged. In the USA, meat processing enterprises of the largest market players were closed for quarantine, ”the expert noted.
As a result, there is a shortage of food products on the world market. At the same time, the Russian sector of the agro-industrial complex escaped severe restrictions and a decline in production, the specialist added.
“We passed this period painlessly. In addition, a favorable factor for Russian food exports was the fact that due to the global deficit, prices for agricultural products in the world have grown significantly, ”Bereznyuk emphasized.
Note that in 2020, the world food price index increased by 7.4%, to 108.5 points. The indicator became the highest in the last six years. This is evidenced by data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“In general, the agricultural sector does not require such capacious material investments as metallurgy, energy or manufacturing. Agricultural production, if necessary, is quickly and flexibly rebuilt to suit the changing situation. In addition, factors such as the introduction of anti-Russian sanctions and countermeasures played a role, which only accelerated the development of our agriculture, “Alexey Korenev, an analyst at FINAM Group, told RT.
Recall that in August 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning the import of certain types of agricultural products into Russia from countries that had previously imposed sanctions on Moscow. We are talking, in particular, about the EU states, the USA, Canada and Australia. The ban affected meat, sausages, dairy products, fish and seafood, vegetables and fruits.
As a result, over seven years, Russia has reduced the supply of food products from abroad by almost a third – from $ 43.3 billion in 2013 to $ 29.7 billion in 2020. At the same time, food exports almost doubled and by the end of 2020 exceeded the volume of imports – for the first time in the entire post-Soviet period. This is evidenced by the data of Rosstat and the Federal Customs Service (FCS).
In 2020, China became the largest buyer of Russian food products. Food supplies to China increased by 26% and exceeded $ 4 billion. As Alexei Maslov, acting director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in an interview with RT, after the start of trade wars with the United States, the Asian republic began to systematically increase imports of agricultural products from Russia.
“Russia, in turn, encouraged its agricultural producers to more actively enter the Chinese market. At the same time, the range of exported food products has significantly expanded. The number of deliveries of flour, soy-based products, seafood, fish, chocolate and Russian ice cream has increased. Against this background, in the coming years we will continue to increase the export of agricultural products to China, ”the expert noted.
It is noteworthy that in 2020 Russia most noticeably increased the supply of meat products abroad – by 49%. Analysts interviewed by RT also attribute this to high demand from the PRC.
“China recently had an epidemic of African swine fever, which resulted in the destruction of half of the country’s pig population. The PRC compensated for the lack of animal protein by supplying chicken, including from Russia,” said Ilya Bereznyuk.
In 2021, the dynamics of food exports from Russia will depend primarily on weather factors and crop yields around the world, says Alexey Korenev. In addition, according to the expert, the dynamics of food demand in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will remain an important factor.
“In general, of course, export volumes will continue to grow further. This is one of those items of income that has significant growth potential, ”the expert emphasized.