The Russian ban on EU food imports came into effect at midnight last night and Russian customs have been ordered to block incoming products from EU countries as well as the US, Australia, Canada and Norway.
Bord Bia's offices in Dublin and Moscow have handled queries from nearly 40 exporters since the year-long ban was announced on Wednesday. The ban is in response to western sanctions imposed on Russia for its role in the Ukrainian crisis.
The main queries to Bord Bia were about products already on their way to Russia.
The sanctions would affect some €70 million worth of exports, said Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter. This includes €40 million worth of dairy produce, €20 million of seafood and €10 million in beef. The ban includes meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables. Last year, Irish food and drink worth €232 million was exported to Russia.
Mr Cotter said it appeared that just over €100 million worth of exports to Russia were not affected, including casein and drinks.
Pigmeat exports to Russia, worth almost €60 million a year, were banned in January following an outbreak of African swine fever.
The indirect impact would take a while to be felt, said Cormac Healy of Ibec's Food and Drink Industry Ireland.
“One third of cheese exports from Europe are now not going to Russia,” he said. “Where will it go?”
The fear of Irish farm groups that Irish losses could be Brazil’s gain looked to become a reality yesterday as Brazil’s agriculture policy secretary Seneri Paludo said there were opportunities to boost beef, pork, poultry, corn and soybean exports to Russia.
Brazilian Foreign Trade Association president José Augusto de Castro told the Bloomberg news agency the production of chicken and pork could be ramped up more quickly than beef: "Certainly, Brazil will benefit."
Russia accounts for 1 per cent of Kerry Group’s sales and the company has an office in Moscow. A spokesman said the group also has sites in regions such as the Middle East and Africa and will try to meet its Russian customers’ needs from some of its other regions not included in the ban.
“We’re still waiting for full clarification in terms of the product codes that are impacted,” he said. “Some sub-categories within those codes may or may not be included.”
The ban comes at a bad time for the Irish Dairy Board which has been trying to boost Kerrygold in Russia where it is seen as a premium brand.
While Kerrygold butter has been available through distributors in Russia for some time, the Irish Dairy Board recently opened an office in Moscow and began exporting Kerrygold butter to Russia late last year. It introduced Kerrygold cheeses this year. In a bid to promote the brand it sponsored the St Patrick’s Day parade in Moscow last year.
A spokeswoman for the board said it was liaising with the Department of Agriculture on the ban and was closely monitoring the situation.