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Belarus dairy exports to grow, gov approval during Covid-19

Due to coronavirus, all food producers in Belarus need to seek an approval from government agencies to sell their products abroad. Despite this, Belarus is aiming to increase food exports, and this year the country also wants to boost milk production and export supplies.

Food exports is set to grow by 4.2% as compared to the previous year to $5.7 billion in 2020, Alexey Bogdanov, director of the export department of the Belarus Agricultural Ministry, has confirmed. This is in line with the plans earlier adopted by the government, he said.

Photo: Chris McCullough
Photo: Chris McCullough

Coronavirus – approval from government

Speaking at a press-conference in Minsk in early March Belarus healthcare minister Vladimir Karanik announced that because of the coronavirus epidemic, all food producers would have to seek an approval from government agencies to sell their products abroad. Karanik explained that this was necessary to ensure that export was not hurting the domestic food market.

If there is a need to replenish the stocks at the local warehouses the government could temporary prohibit food export from Belarus, Karanik warned. So far, the government has allowed food exporters to continue as per normal, he added.

The measures introduced in the country against Covid-19 are not as strict. Speaking recently during a government meeting Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko said that the situation with coronavirus in Belarus is not that bad in the country.

Export goals

Belarus has been putting a lot of effort into re-building its dairy industry in order to further boost export supplies, Bogdanov said at a separate press-conference. The Belarus dairy industry development programme is aimed at the country boosting milk production from 7.3 million tonnes in 2019 to 9 million tonnes in 2025, Bogdanov said.

In 2020, Belarus was planning to boost cheese export by around 10% to $1 billion, while the country has been cutting production of commodities like milk powder, because in this segment it would be extremely hard for the country to compete with the countries of the Southern Hemisphere, specifically the New Zealand and Uruguay, Bogdanov explained. For this reason, Belarus is focusing primarily on the dairy products with the high added value.

As of today, Russia accounts for more than 80% of Belarus’ dairy export. According to Bogdanov, the main target is to focus on increasing supplies to the countries where Belarus dairy products is already present, but in small quantities. This includes some Asian countries: China, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, plus some Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar as well as the countries of the European Union.

Belarus wants to increase the number of dairy plants in 2020 to export their products to the European Union, Bogdanov said.