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Russia's ban on food imports from Canada will hurt Manitoba pork exporters

The Manitoba Pork Council's chairman says it was looking like a good year for pork exports to Russia, so the new ban is a concern for the industry.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

The Manitoba Pork Council's chairman says it was looking like a good year for pork exports to Russia, so the new ban is a concern for the industry.

Russia’s decision to impose a one-year ban on food imports from Canada and a host of other countries will be a blow to Manitoba pork producers and processors, an industry official said today.

Manitoba Pork Council chairman Karl Kynoch said Russia is Canada’s fourth largest export market, with sales on track to hit the $500 million this year.

"It was looking like a pretty good year for pork going into Russia, so this is definitely a concern," Kynoch said, adding that any time an industry loses one of its top export markets, it’s bound to hurt.

Although he didn’t have any data on how much pork Manitoba exports annually to Russia, Kynoch noted Manitoba exports about 85 per cent of the pork products it produces each year, compared to 50 per cent for Canada.

"So export markets are very important to us in Manitoba."

According to Industry Canada, Manitoba exported $61.8 million worth of pork to Russia in 2013. Exports have also jumped significantly in recent years, up from only $34.6 million in 2012 and $9.7 million in 2011.

On the positive side, Kynoch said Canada exports pork to more than 80 countries, so hopefully pork processors can find other markets to take the pork that otherwise would have gone to Russia.

But that’s going to take time, he added.

Russia announced the ban on food imports from Canada, the United States, the European Union, Australia and Norway in retaliation for trade sanctions imposed on it for its annexation of the Crimea region.

The ban applies to meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, milk and milk products.

Canada's trade relationsip with Russia - Graphic
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