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Friday, 30 March, 2001, 21:30 GMT 22:30 UK
Russia facing meat crisis
Suckling pigs in Russian market
One third of Russia's meat comes from EU
Russian meat processors are having to look for new supplies, because a ban on imports of EU meat has reduced stocks and threatens to push prices through the roof.

New deals are being struck with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and Brazil, while talks are under way with China in an attempt to deal with a sudden meat deficit caused by the restrictions.

Russian sausages
EU meat has lost its sizzle

The ban was imposed on all imports from EU countries after the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Britain. The EU supplies Russia with up to a third of its meat.

Experts are predicting prices will rise by as much as 15 %, with domestic supplies becoming more expensive through a "chain reaction" effect.

"Imported meat will go up in price, then Russian meat and finally all meat products," a correspondent on Russia's NTV said.


The decision of the Russian authorities is exaggerated and disproportionate

EU statement

So far the authorities say there have been no foot-and-mouth cases within Russia.

But there have been complaints about the import ban applying to meat from all animals - not just those which can contract the disease - and also to fish.

Brussels has called on Moscow to revise its policy, saying the extent of the ban is "exaggerated and disproportionate".

Mongolia

But the head of the Russian Meat Union, Iosif Rogov, has warned that the disease may spread into the eastern Buryatia region from neighbouring Mongolia, where herds of sick animals are already being burnt.

Meanwhile, meat sellers are reporting a big drop in sales following the foot-and-mouth outbreak, with many shoppers turning to poultry as an alternative to red meat.

One market stall holder said prices had even fallen slightly with the drop in demand.

Giving up for Lent

Russian meat seller
Shoppers are buying less meat
The foot-and-mouth problem does not seem to have affected appetites in the Kremlin, however.

Although many Russians cut back on eating meat during Lent and canteens often put on special menus, Kremlin chiefs are reported to be continuing to eat as normal.

"Lent or foot-and-mouth, they continue to eat chops," one dinner lady said.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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