9 Feb 2023 14:00

China becomes leading market for Russian food, agricultural exports in 2022 - Agroexport

MOSCOW. Feb 9 (Interfax) - Russia increased exports of food and agricultural products to China by 44% by value and 36% by volume in 2022, the Agriculture Ministry's Agroexport Center reported.

"Thanks to this dynamic, China regained the position of the largest buyer of Russian agricultural and food products, which it lost in 2021. China remains the leading importer of Russian rapeseed oil, poultry, beef, soybeans, oats and flaxseeds, and also took first place among buyers of Russian honey and flaxseed oil," Agroexport said in a press release.

Russian rapeseed oil exports to China doubled by volume and jumped 140% by value in 2022, the center said, citing preliminary data from the Federal Customs Service. Almost 70% of Russian rapeseed oil exports went to China, Agroexport added.

The growth in exports was driven by the increase of the rapeseed harvest to 4.5 million tonnes in 2022 from 2.7 million tonnes in 2021, the CEO of the Rosraps association, Sergei Tuchin was cited as saying in the press release. "In the current circumstances, the Chinese market is becoming a priority for our country," he said.

Russia also increased exports of fish and other seafood to China to over 500,000 tonnes in 2022. Exports of frozen fish surged 46% by volume and 68% by value, and exports of shellfish grew by 30%.

"The growth of exports to China was due to several factors. Firstly, it is the growing interest from China in products produced by Russian companies (frozen fish, fillet, crab). Secondly, the lifting of Covid restrictions, and thirdly the rerouting of export volumes made available due to the imposition of sanctions by unfriendly countries," the Federal Fisheries Agency said.

Soybean exports to China remained flat in 2022, but revenue from them jumped 55%. Sales of meal and cake surged 16-fold by volume and 670% by value.

Poultry meat exports to China rose 11% to 139,000 tonnes in 2022 and increased 53% by value. China remained the leading importer of Russian poultry, accounting for about 40% of total Russian exports by volume in 2022, compared to 42% in 2021, Agroexport said.

"The growth of shipments to China was due primarily to the fact that excessive restrictions and product inspection procedures related to Covid-19 were lifted in the country in 2022, although control over imported products for compliance with organoleptic properties tightened. These changes in the operating procedures of the Chinese authorities were expected, and, in anticipation of this, Russian producers tightened internal requirements for products supplied to China," the CEO of the National Poultry Farmers Union, Sergei Lakhtyukhov said.

He also noted the growth of poultry production in Russia and the resulting increase in the supply of products that are in-demand on the Chinese market. At the same time, exporters managed to overcome a significant portion of problems related to logistics constraints due to key operators refusing to work in Russia, Lakhtyukhov said.

Agroexport said Russia has potential to further expand food exports to China. The most promising categories include fish and other seafood, grains, meat products and vegetable oil, it said.

The Federal Fisheries Agency is developing a digital ecosystem with Chinese importers in order to process export permits for fish and fish products in digital form, which will certainly help increase exports to China, the agency said.

The growth of rapeseed exports to China depends directly on the growth of its production in the Siberian Federal District and the inclusion of rapeseed in the crop rotation in the Far East, where soybeans traditionally have a substantial share, Tuchin said, adding that the potential for exporting processed rapeseed products to China is huge.