Nearly 70% of dairy products imported to Kazakhstan from Russia have questionable quality, Talgat Baimurinov, chairman of the agricultural committee at the business union Atameken, told local news outlet Karavan.
Ensuring food security must be a priority for the authorities, he said, questioning the current trade policy, allowing overwhelming dairy imports from Russia.
“More than 70% of dairy products from Russia are counterfeits. Milk, for example – everything is added to it, nothing is natural. And we consume it all. So, what future awaits us after this? After all, food security should be at the forefront of everything,” Baimurinov said.
He expressed an opinion that the Kazakhstan government should focus on supporting local manufacturers, estimating that by subsidising the construction of 10-15 milk farms, the country would “close the milk issue” in 2-3 years and even start exporting it.
Kazakhstan consumes around 2.16 million tonnes of milk, while domestic production stands at around 1.7 million tonnes per year. The gap is filled by imports, primarily from the neighbouring Russian regions.
Kazakhstan dairy businesses have expressed concerns over a rise in dairy imports from Russia since the beginning of 2023. Baimurinov noted that the Russian market experiences a surplus of around 2 million tonnes of milk and desperately seeks to mitigate it at the expense of neighbouring markets.
He also questioned the Russian ban on Kyrgyz dairy products imposed a few months earlier over allegations that local farmers “fed the cattle incorrectly, and now they produce milk with inadequate quality”.
Under an industry development roadmap, 120 milk farms are scheduled to be built or modernised in Kazakhstan through 2027. However, the current market conditions jeopardize these plans, Baimurinov said, also voicing fears that Russian milk could also start finding its way to the Kazakh market through various illegal channels.
In this case, he said, wholesale prices for local farmers would slump, leading to “irreversible consequences” for the industry.
Vladimir Kozhevnikov, executive director of the Dairy Union of Kazakhstan, also called on the authorities to tighten control over the quality of products imported to the country not only from Russia but also from Belarus. Kozhevnikov, however, disagreed that all dairy products coming to the country have poor quality, describing such claims as “nonsense”.