Russia's recent ban on U.S. agricultural products will have little effect on poultry exports, particularly those on the Delmarva peninsula, state officials say.
"Russia takes these kinds of action periodically. It has as much or more to do with politics than with food-safety issues,” said Ed Kee, Delaware secretary of agriculture. “We export significantly less chicken to Russia than we did a decade ago, and the general feeling is that our companies can divert poultry that would be going to Russia to other markets, domestic or international."
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order Aug. 6 banning agricultural products from the United States and other countries that have imposed economic sanctions against Russia. Although the National Chicken Council said Russia is the second-leading market for U.S. chicken in terms of volume, the council says the ban will do little to affect the industry.
At Perdue, Julie DeYoung, spokesperson for the company, said Perdue does not export chicken to Russia.
“We are not directly impacted by the recent decision,” she said.
The same goes for Allen Harim Foods, which does not export to Russia, said spokesman Doug Freeman.
In 2013, the U.S. exported about 267,000 metric tons of chicken to Russia valued at $303 million, according to the National Chicken Council.
“As its domestic poultry industry has expanded, Russia has in recent years become less important as an export market,” the council wrote in a press release. “Russia currently accounts for only about 7 percent of total U.S. poultry export volume.”
In the mid-1990s, exports to Russia were as much as 40 percent of that total, the council reported.
“As a result, we do not expect that a Russian ban on U.S. poultry imports will have a great impact on our industry. The biggest impact, we believe, will be on Russian citizens who will be burdened by higher prices for all food products, especially meat and poultry,” the council states.
According to the council, the price of poultry in Russia is already rising and has recently been increasing at a rate of 2 percent to 3 percent per week.
“Our industry believes that free and fair trade – particularly with food – should never be used as a political bargaining chip. We look forward to working with the U.S. government to resolve this issue and resume normal trade relations with Russia as soon as possible,” the council states.