Russia is to begin importing Israeli dairy products, the government in Moscow announced this week. Russia thus joins 36 countries, including the U.S., Canada, the EU and several Asian countries, that allow the import of Israeli-produced dairy products to satisfy local demand, especially of local Jewish communities.
The announcement comes after a three-year evaluation by Russian officials of Israeli veterinary practices and the safety and health levels of Israeli farms and dairy production facilities. While Israeli production facilities are considered generally safe, Russia has been very concerned that opening the market to the import of dairy products could introduce bacteria or other elements that could harm the local ecosystem. It is for that reason the evaluation procedure was so lengthy, Israeli officials said.
Most of the exports to Russia and the other countries Israel exports to are meant for consumption by local Jewish communities, who seek kosher products but do not have local sources or sufficient resources to set up hashgachah. According to the Agriculture Ministry, Israel annually exports 2,292 tons of dairy products to Europe, 1,456 to the U.S. and Canada, and 3,180 tons to Asian countries.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said that the Russian decision was testimony to the high quality and safety of Israeli-produced dairy products. “We only recently signed a deal worth millions with Russia after the approval by Russian authorities, and we will continue to work to expand exports to other countries,” said Ariel.