POST Online Media Lite Edition


Lukashenko: Belarusian meat industry should not lose momentum

Christian Fernsby |
Meat products are plentiful on store shelves in Belarus.

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They have become a "delicious" signature brand of the country. Tourists buy them as souvenirs. They are given as a gift. For example, in 2019, Aleksandr Lukashenko presented a Slutsk salami to Vladimir Putin after negotiations in Sochi.

“We made the Braunschweiger sausage to the recipe from 1986. This recipe provides for the equal amount of high-quality pork and beef. Smoked, with spices. The ingredients are 100% organic. It is very popular with consumers,” said Aleksandr Kleshchenok, the head of the meat processing shop at Slutsk Meat Processing Plant.

Raw-smoked, dried, premium grade. It is made of beef, pork, lard, salt, spices, sugar. Nothing superfluous. It does make a good present, doesn't it? Why do consumers love the Belarusian sausage? It's delicious, made to GOST standards! The same applies to the famous Doktorskaya.

This year, the recipe turns 87 years old. Back at the time it was made to "improve the health of persons affected by the tsarist regime."

The doctors calibrated the recipe: 100kg of sausage contained 25kg of high-grade beef and 70kg of semi-fat pork. Belarusian technologists have not abandoned the recipe and are still producing "the very same".

“The products are manufactured both according to the old traditional standards, what everyone calls GOSTs, and to the new recipes.

"The aggregate line-up is up to a thousand items.

"The working assortment, as we call it, is about 580 items of meat products. Of these, 300 are sausages, 200 are semi finished meat products, and 80 are canned foods,” said Pavel Yanov, Head of the Meat and Dairy Department of the Agriculture and Food Ministry of Belarus.

Slutsk Meat Processing Plant processed 306,000 tonnes of meat in January-October of this year. The plant operates a pig farm and a feed mill.

“We manufacture scalded meat products, small sausages, frankfurters, smoked meats, semi-smoked, dry-cured salami. And also offal products, pâtés and seltzes. They are also very much in demand. The output rose 11% year-on-year.

"This is a good growth. We see an increase in the use of beef sausages.

"We sell into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan. We also make horse meat products. These are also specific sausages. They are in great demand,” Aleksandr Kleshchenok noted.

Praise from the president is the best advertising for a product. Aleksandr Lukashenko tried salceson and seltz while visiting the Yubileiny agricultural complex in Orsha District.

By the way, these delicacies of Belarusian traditional cuisine are considered to be food staples, therefore they are subject to price controls.

All in all, scalded meat products, frankfurters and small sausages account for the lion's share of processed meat in Belarus (48%). Then come seltzes, pâtés, liver products. They are followed by dried sausages and salami.

“Within the span of five years we have seen a steady growth in the production of ready-to-eat meats, namely sausages. The output of canned meat rose by 25.8% and that of sausages increased by more than 9% over 2018. This year we expect the annualized growth rate of 5%,” Pavel Yanov said.

The export also grew. Belarusian sausages are available in 14 countries worldwide, including Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, and Jordan. This year, Belarus' meat producers expanded into Bahrain. Supplies to Africa are under discussion.

“In January-September 2023, the export of processed meat products surged by 21% in quantitative terms and by over 5% in monetary terms,” Pavel Yanov said.

Strict quality control is in place. Belarusian products meet the national quality standards and standards of the EAEU members and other countries.

“Everyone loves our products. We should keep it up. This is our brand. Cleanliness, order and quality products. We should keep doing it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a national seminar to discuss cattle industry prospects in September 2023.

Import substitution is another hot trend in the industry. Every meat producer is trying to find its niche.

“We have started making khinkali. Six varieties stuffed with pork, beef and vegetables are on offer. They are hugely popular. They look and taste the same way as Georgian khinkali. Technologists have also developed a recipe for Slutsk hams. We add mushroom or pomegranate sauce, there is also premium ham with a unique look, aroma and taste,” Aleksandr Kleshchenok said.

For example, in 2021 only 20 tonnes of products like jamon and prosciutto were imported into Belarus. We produced 24 times more. Today, we routinely make fine salami with mold.

New industry trends include production of meat products similar to jamon. “This product is made of certain types of raw meat and needs long curing to give it a distinct flavor and aroma. We also make such products as Parma ham and prosciutto,” Pavel Yanov said.

Pavel Yanov also spoke about the production of semi-finished products in portion packs: “These are, for example, steaks in marinade sauce. Whatever housewives need is now in high demand. It helps save cooking time.”

Manufacturers rely on organic foods. Additive-free ingredients are a gastronomic trend. This however does not prevent technologists from coming up with new recipes.

Aleksandr Lukashenko tried turkey sausage in Krupki District last year.

This year Belarus has doubled turkey production. Some 9,000 tonnes of this healthy hypoallergenic meat will be available on sale in various forms. Pork, however, remains the main raw material for sausages and meat delicacies. And here we have a number of problems.

“The country's pig breeding complexes need modernization. Almost 70% of them were built 20 years ago.

"There is a need for a concrete program to upgrade these complexes. Otherwise, we may soon be unable to enjoy barbecues in the countryside as there will be no domestic pork in the country,” the head of state said stressing the need to upgrade pig breeding complexes at a government meeting in September 2023.

In the past two years, the number of pigs has decreased by 12%. The mortality rate has increased. Biological protection violations are among the main reasons behind it.

Farms fail to fight rodents, cook the books and hide mortality numbers.

The president's requirements are clear: to comply with technological and labor requirements.

There is no need to artificially keep loss-making complexes afloat.

“Decisions have been made to reconstruct and re-equip the country's pig breeding complexes. Plans are in place to build new facilities, continue breeding efforts and provide pigs with quality mixed fodder,” Pavel Yanov said.

The pork industry is changing. Today it is possible to secure the necessary amount of raw materials with smaller livestock thanks to good weight gain. This, however, requires modern technologies.

“We plan to build about 14 large complexes in the country. We will also need to decide on the reconstruction of the existing complexes and livestock. In order to provide them with everything necessary and keep them up and running, we need to work on technology. We will ensure that our processing industry has the necessary volume of livestock to meet the country's needs,” Agriculture and Food Minister Sergei Bartosh said.

Annual per capita meat production is 137kg. The domestic market needs are met by 100-130%.

“Today, the country's meat processing enterprises operate at about 72% of their sausage production capacities. Thus, it can process more meat than it actually does today. The strategic mission of the industry is to process all raw materials of animal origin, produce a wide range of products, saturate the domestic market and increase exports,” Pavel Yanov said.

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