Tatarstan dairy farmers go ‘halal’: cheeses and drinks tasted in Dubai

Tatarstan dairy farmers got a chance to break into the markets of China and Egypt at the Gulfood 2024 exhibition

Large milk processors of the republic are preparing to enter the food markets of China and Egypt. At the Gulfood 2024 International Food Exhibition, Izhevsk-based Uva-Moloko signed memorandums of understanding with two distribution companies — Al mansoor group LLC and Arab Dairy LLC from Egypt, and Vamin Tatarstan — with Fresh express LLC from China. Prior to that, both manufacturers certified products for compliance with the halal standard at the Muslim Spiritual Board of the Russian Federation, without which it is difficult to break into the market, said Denis Pirogov, the head of Tatmolsoyuz. “If they manage to conclude export contracts, then they will have the opportunity to get federal subsidies for 100% compensation of transportation costs," he added.

Who Marat Zyabbarov brings to Gulfood 2024

The Tatarstan delegation of manufacturers returned from the Gulfood 2024 International Food and Beverage Exhibition in Dubai. In the countries of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, it is considered the most authoritative platform for establishing business contacts, and this time the number of participants increased due to Russian exporting companies rebuilding flows to Eastern markets. About 20 large food producers flew from Tatarstan to Dubai — Kazan Dairy Plant from KOMOS Group, VAMIN, Uva-Moloko, Essen, Emiz trading house. The total area of the stand was about 100 square metres, the Investment Development Agency press service reported. That was enough for both dairy farmers and meat processors. The delegation was headed by Deputy Prime Minister of Agriculture and Food Marat Zyabbarov.

Why Tatspirtprom was not taken to Dubai

“The exhibition was bursting with all kinds of treats. Almost every product had a green icon with Arabic script “Halal”. Halal cheeses of various varieties, sausages, jams, cookies," said Ildar Salakhov, CEO of Agro-Rost Export PLC, who has never missed Gulfood in five years. “The exposition was 'drowned' in all kinds of halal food, only Tatspirtprom vodka was not enough. Only soft drinks and halal wine," joked another interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya. “The Muslim world has not come to recognise halal vodka, so TSP was not taken to Dubai," he laughed. But both recognised that the republic had presented an original design studio for the first time.

The Tatarstan Investment Development Agency became the organiser of the trip to the international exhibition. “Tatarstan is an open door for Russia's entry into the Islamic world. Therefore, business relations established with Islamic partners should not only be constantly maintained, but also new contacts should be created, new economic chains should be built. Especially on the halal line," Taliya Minullina, the head of the Agency, explained to Realnoe Vremya. According to her, personal meetings at exhibitions and forums strengthen partnerships, which is one of the principles of working with the East. “Gulfood in Dubai is the largest food exhibition in the world. We are not only bringing our companies, but also adopting the experience of organising halal exhibitions, and also inviting business representatives to our Halal Expo exhibition within the framework of KazanForum, so that Tatarstan entrepreneurs have the opportunity to establish these contacts to enter the markets of other countries," she added.

Dairy producers are in great demand

“During the days of Gulfood 2024, the team of the Investment Development Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Tatarstan, headed by Deputy Prime Minister — Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Republic of Tatarstan Marat Zyabbarov, held more than 40 meetings and negotiations with representatives of companies from Eastern countries, first deputy head of the Investment Developemnt Agency of the Republic of Tatarstan Insaf Galiyev said. As a result, several export expansion agreements were signed.

For example, the Izhevsk enterprise Uva-Moloko PLC (part of the Molochnaya Semya Group) concluded memoranda of understanding for the supply of dairy products with two distribution companies — Al mansoor group LLC and Arab Dairy LLC from Egypt. MLK Group operates two dairy plants — Kasymovsky in the Vysokogorsky district and Apastovsky in the Apastovsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan. The latter just carries out the shipment of dairy products for export, as it has a Halal certificate, the Moscow office of MLK Group clarified. The memorandum provides for the possibility of shipping milk powder and cheeses if the products pass certification in Egypt. VAMIN also agreed to arrange the supply of milk powder and Fresh express LLC cheeses from China.

The Kazan manufacturer of soft drinks Emiz has agreed to establish supplies with the distribution network KUCH TRADING & SUPPLIES FZE LLC from the UAE. The first shipment will be made in the near future, CEO of Emiz Trading House Anfas Nurtdinov said. According to him, Kazan drinks and juices passed halal certification in the Muslim Spiritual Board of Russia. However, this does not matter much, since drinks are made from grapes. Halal is also important for those who process livestock products to confirm safety and quality, he noted.

Agro-Rost Export PLC grain trader signed a new contract with European Neri trading srl for the supply of oilseeds, and Kazan AG EXPORT signed a new contract with Ordo Trade from Kyrgyzstan. Besides, the packaging supplier Polimir began to replace the niche of the withdrawn Tetra-Pak and signed contracts with the Rogachev Dairy Canning plant from Belarus and with Sun-Food PLC from Armenia, the Investment Development Agency press service reported. Besides, meetings were held with representatives of the national stands of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Lebanon, the Agency press service added.

A window to China

“VAMIN has not yet worked with China, and Uva-moloko has not worked with Egypt. These are breakthrough directions for Tatarstan dairy farmers," Denis Pirogov, the head of the Tatmolsoyuz, commented on the agreements. Currently, the export of dairy products from Tatarstan to the countries of the Middle East is almost zero. Last year, dairy farmers shipped products worth $8.6 million, and the main supplies come from the CIS countries and others, he noted. Among them — Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, where a Halal certificate is required. The first one who managed to arrange shipments was the Bashkir Meleuzovsky Dairy Cannery, which shipped 500 thousand tons. According to the head of the Tatmolsoyuz, VAMIN is going to follow them.

Exports can be beneficial for milk processors with federal support, Denis Pirogov is sure. According to him, from March 5, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation will again begin accepting applications for subsidising transportation costs for the supply of dairy products across the territory of the Russian Federation. “Only in this case, the supplies will be profitable," he said. The thing is that China imports a large volume of powdered milk duty-free from New Zealand, and protective duties remain in trade with the Russian Federation. At the same time, Pirogov warned that local producers will be able to export no more than 1/10 of the part, as they are aimed at satisfying the domestic market.

The Ministry of Agriculture of Russia controls the export of milk powder. Last year, for the first time, the agency introduced 100% compensation for transportation costs, which was used by many enterprises with workshops for the production of powdered milk. But at the end of January, at a meeting with industry enterprises, Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev warned that export supplies were necessary to regulate the oversupply of milk in the domestic market, and the measure itself helped raise milk purchase prices. As a result, the external supply of milk powder increased 6 times compared to 2022, and the supply of whey doubled. Now the priority is to maintain stable prices for dairy products within the country.

If prices accelerate, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation will take unpopular measures. “Of course, we are guided by the need to maintain stability in the domestic market without any sharp fluctuations. But everyone should understand, dear colleagues, that if necessary, if our prices accelerate, we have all the necessary regulatory levers to prevent this process, so please also look so that prices do not rise sharply. Otherwise, it will lead to that we will be forced to make unpopular decisions to stop this process," the minister warned.

Luiza Ignatyeva

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