A customer looks at sausages during the 25th St. Petersburg agricultural fair held in St. Petersburg, Russia on Aug. 31, 2016. (Xinhua/Irina Motina)
MOSCOW, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- China remains the top importer of Russian food products this year, according to one expert on Tuesday.
"Last year, China purchased Russian food products worth more than one billion U.S. dollars, and I believe there will be a significant increase this year," said Dmitry Rylko, general director of the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR).
Currently, fish and other seafood account for the bulk of Russian food exports to China, he added. Shipments of grain, of which Russia is a major exporter, are rather modest.
The Russian government has licensed regions in the Urals, Western Siberia and the Far East to export grain to China, while the European part of Russia, which also produces large volumes of wheat, corn and barley, are unable to supply grain products to China, Rylko said.
President of the industry lobby Russian Grain Union, Arkady Zlochevsky, called the Chinese market "wide and promising."
"Russia can offer China many agricultural commodities including pulses and oilseeds. But wheat is most promising," he said.
"If we negotiate away all obstacles, Russian pork exports to China could reach 200,000 to 300,000 tons," added Sergei Yushin, head of the National Meat Association. "Exports of Russian poultry products including offal could be no lower."
He also noticed the interest of Chinese businesses in importing high-quality Russian beef for premium retail shops, hotels, restaurants and cafes.
Yushin said favorable conditions have been created for exports. "We have all the necessary business contacts in order to quickly start exporting. Moreover, currently China has difficulties with its U.S. partners, which opens certain prospects and opportunities for Russian manufacturers," he said.
Russia has been increasing agricultural exports to the world market of late. On Monday, Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said Russia would export agricultural products worth 26 billion dollars this year.
Last year, Russia's agricultural and food exports totaled around 20 billion dollars.