(NAFB)--Exports of U.S. beef to Russia are on an upward trend - increasing 27-percent in volume and 68-percent in value from 2010 to 2011. For 2012 - the pace is even better - rising 58-percent in volume and 200-percent in value early in the year. Before the 2003 BSE case - Freitag says Russia was primarily a liver market for the U.S. But since resumption of market access in 2008 - the U.S. has been setting records in beef muscle cut exports to Russia. The U.S. muscle cut exports exceeded variety meat export volume by 2011. As part of Russia’s World Trade Organization accession agreement - U.S. beef exports are benefitting from an expanded TRQ volume - which increased to 60-thousand metric tons this year. That’s up from 41,700 in 2011 and 21,700 in 2010. More U.S. beef can enter Russia at the preferential 15-percent duty while out-of-quota imports are subject to a 55-percent duty.
John Freitag of the Wisconsin Beef Council says there’s a real opportunity for high-quality grain-fed U.S. beef in Russia - but it will require educating chefs and consumers not to overcook the product due to safety concerns. Russians are accustomed to eating lower quality cuts of beef that may not have been produced to the highest food safety standards. As a result - most order their steaks well done. Freitag says U.S. Meat Export Federation initiatives in the country are designed to educate beef buyers and chefs on how good a top-shelf steak can taste when properly prepared - and help them convey the message to their customers.