Russia has lifted its 26-year ban on British beef and lamb, with exports expected to commence within months.
The country banned red meat imports from Britain after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak in the late 1990s. However, the UK is now virtually free of the disease and Russia decided to lift the ban over the summer, with an export agreement announced last week after Russian officials met with a British delegation headed by the UK's chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens.
The exact details of the deal are unclear, but the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rurual Affairs (Defra) said that it could be worth £80 mill. to the British meat industry over the next three years, with beef exports expected to start in January and lamb exports to follow in April.
Eblex, the English beef and lamb levy board, predicted the deal could be worth as much as £115 mill., pointing out that Russia is one of the world's largest beef importers.
Russia has been a key priority for Eblex and Defra under the Export Certification Partnership, which was created to help speed up the process of re-establishing certification to markets closed to UK exports after disease outbreaks.
Source: Defra and Eblex