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Ukraine may curb meat exports to stabilise local prices

By Pavel Polityuk

KIEV, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Ukraine may impose substantial
curbs on meat exports to stabilise local prices, which have
jumped by more than 40 percent in some cases this year, a senior
government official said on Thursday.

Average domestic prices for pork surged 43 percent in the
first eight months of the year, while beef and poultry were up
26 percent and 31 percent higher respectively, according to
Ukraine's state statistics service.

"We are facing a significant increase in local meat prices
and a jump in exports is one of the reasons," the official
familiar with the matter told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"We are considering substantial meat export restrictions to
keep meat prices stable," he said, without giving details.

The state statistics service said local prices for lard, a
traditional Ukrainian food, had risen about 3 percent in the
first 10 days of September alone, while beef and poultry prices
were up 1.4 percent and 2 percent respectively.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman promised earlier
this month to lower meat prices in the coming weeks.

The Ukrainian central bank has also said inflation is higher
than expected in part due to "significant exports of meat and
milk products".

According to data provided by the agricultural producers
lobby the Ukrainian Agrarian Council, Ukraine exported 228,418
tonnes of meat in the first eight months of 2017, nearly 30
percent higher than a year earlier.

"We've became hostage to exports. The price rises on the
world market make it profitable to supply meat for foreign
markets," said Denys Marchuk, the council's deputy head.

Producers' data shows that poultry dominates the country's
meat exports, accounting for about 75 percent of the total
volume. This year Ukraine exports poultry mostly to Egypt, the
Netherlands, and Iraq.

Agriculture officials have said Ukraine's meat consumption
could reach 2.2 million tonnes this year with production at
about 2.3 million tonnes. Poultry consumption is forecast at
1.06 million with production at 1.2 million tonnes.

"The net cost of our meat is much cheaper (than abroad) and
this pushes exports up," the government source said.

The ministry forecasts 2017 meat imports at 193,000 tonnes
and exports at 305,000 tonnes, including 240,000 tonnes of
poultry. Ukraine's poultry exports rose 49 percent to 240,160
tonnes in 2016 while imports rose 36 percent to 83,300 tonnes.

Analysts have said that outbreaks of African swine fever in
many Ukrainian regions have also reduced the pig population,
which was another reason for the rise in prices.

Ukraine had registered 85 cases of swine fever in most
regions as of mid-July. Producers have said the pig population
could shrink by about 8 percent this year to 6.8 million, which
could reduced pork meat production by some 3 percent.
(Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets and Alessandra
Prentice; editing by David Clarke)

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