One of the fastest growing markets for U.S. beef is Russia. Since November 2006, when the three year ban of U.S. beef following the find of a cow with BSE was lifted, sales of beef to Russia have quickly gone up. The market for beef was opened as a result of Russia's ascension into the World Trade Organization and according to Allen Mustard, the former agricultural attaché to Russia for the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service; sales in 2008 should hit $50-60 million with possible sales of more than $100 million next year.
Mustard says that beef liver for production of sausage is the largest segment of exports to Russia, but demand is expanding for other cuts as well.
"Seventy percent of the meat consumed in Russia is consumed in the form of sausage products, so we ship a lot of beef liver," says Mustard. "We also however have been shipping more and more of the primal cuts for coming in for the steak industry because you just can't get good steak locally, it has to be imported."
Mustard says where a big part of the U.S.'s niche lies is with heavy demand by Russian consumers as well as available raw commodities for Russia's strong processing industry.