Russians are eating meat like the doctor ordered

March 6, 2013

Russians are very close to the recommended medical standards for meat consumption. According to data of the Ministry of Agriculture available to RBC daily, meat consumption per person was 73.8 kg last year compared to the standard 75 kg. Within a few years, Russia will be close to the European figure, but will still be behind the U.S., where each resident eats 110 kg per year. However, experts say Russians should not do this. It is better to add more vegetables, milk and fish to the diet. 

According to estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture based on Rosstat data, per capita consumption of meat and meat products in Russia at the end of last year was 73.8 kg, an increase of 4.2% compared to 2011. Consumption has increased by more than 47% in the last ten years, and by 64% since 2000. According to the Ministry’s estimates, in two more years Russians will reach the recommended medical standards of 75 kg. In 1990, each citizen of the USSR ate an average of 70 kg per year. 

Russians mostly ate poultry meat (27.1 kg) and pork (22.9 kg) in the past. Beef consumption per capita was slightly more modest at 16.5 kg per year. The domestic share of production is 68% for beef, 76% for pork and 88% for poultry meat. 

The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that in 2017, each Russian will eat 77.8 kg of meat, and the share of domestic production will increase to 86.6% of the total. Russian producers will be able to supply 99% of domestic market demand for poultry meat and 92% of demand for pork. 

As a comparison, per capita consumption of meat is now about 110 kg in the U.S. and an average of about 80 kg in European countries. 

At the same time, Russian industry experts give a slightly lower estimate of meat consumption than the Ministry — about 70 kg per person per year. But in any case, both officials and analysts are unanimous in their assessment of the trend: as prosperity increases, Russians will be able to spend more on food, including meat products. “We clearly see how consumer demand is shifting from frozen imported products to domestic production of chilled meat”, says Alexander Kostikov, spokesman for Cherkizovo Group. 

The Head of the Russian Meat Union, Mushegh Mamikonian, is urging Russians not to pursue American consumption standards. “We won’t catch up to them, and we shouldn’t do this. Russia should focus on European standards of 82–85 kg. Europe will reach this consumption level in five to seven years,” he says. Americans themselves have been consuming less meat in recent years and eating more vegetables. Russians should also follow this trend says Mr. Mamikonian. In his opinion, each person should eat from 70 to 100 kg of meat per year. Fish, eggs and milk are other sources of protein for Russians, he adds. 

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also spoke yesterday about the need to eat more greens and vegetables. Speaking at a meeting on the development of greenhouses, the Prime Minister urged them to double production.