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Pork sanctions will hit home

Russia’s ban against Canadian pork will hit home in Alberta, but the worldwide pork shortage could soften the blow, says Alberta Pork.

On Thursday, Russia announced a year-long ban on food products in response to sanctions imposed against it over the crisis in Ukraine.

Russia has banned meat, fish, milk and dairy products, fruit and vegetables from Canada, the United States, the 28 countries in the European Union, Australia and Norway.

Alberta Pork executive director Darcy Fitzgerald said the effect is significant, as Russia was Canada’s third largest trading partner this year when it came to pork.

He said the impact will be equal for pork producers across Canada.

“We’re not sure what the impact will be quite yet. We trade in over 100 countries and it’s not really the first time we’ve had trade-related issues,” Fitzgerald said on Thursday.

World demand has elevated pork prices so there is some room for optimism, he said.

“If the demand is there and they can find those extra markets, how significant this is on us? Maybe not as much as much as we think.”

Fitzgerald is not sure how quickly new markets need to be found.

“My understanding is (Russia) is not trying to do it overnight, so that’s a good thing.”

He said Russia was buying unprocessed frozen pork from Canada, mostly hams and trimmings to make sausage.

A year’s supply would be a little shy of half a billion dollars worth of pork products, and Russian pork processors will also be hurt.

“It does affect not just our producers. It affects their consumers. Suddenly they don’t have a meat supply and it’s everything — it’s pork and beef and poultry and fish products; vegetables and fruits from Europe. It really adds up. It’s significant.”

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