(Adds details on Brazil chicken exports, Brazilian companies that would benefit)
By Fabiola Gomes
SAO PAULO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - The Brazilian meat industry is ready to take advantage of a Russian ban on U.S. agricultural imports and ship Russia more chicken, though not pork, Brazil’s animal protein association ABPA said on Wednesday.
Brazil, the world’s largest chicken exporter, could send 150,000 more tonnes per year to Russia in addition to the 60,000 tonnes it exported there last year, ABPA President Francisco Turra told journalists.
Brazil has previously exported 300,000 tonnes of chicken to Russia annually, he said.
The chicken measure was part of a larger crackdown from Russia, which banned all imports of U.S. food products as well as fruit and vegetables from the European Union on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin ordered retaliation for Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
Russia was the second-biggest buyer of U.S. poultry after Mexico last year, accounting for 8 percent of U.S. chicken meat exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Brazilian companies that stand to benefit from the U.S. ban are BRF SA, the world’s largest chicken exporting firm, and meatpacker JBS SA, which also has U.S. poultry operations.
ABPA’s Turra said Brazil has 20 chicken plants authorized to export to Russia and would hope to increase this number.
“We have a very large spare capacity,” he said.
If Russia purchased an additional 150,000 tonnes of Brazilian chicken per year, it would become one of the top buyers of Brazilian poultry, along with Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Russia will allow Brazil to significantly increase meat and dairy exports to Russia, the country’s state Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) said on Wednesday.
Brazil belongs to the BRICS economic bloc with Russia, India, China and South Africa. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said last month the bloc stood against one-sided economic and political measures by third countries, in reference to the U.S. and European sanctions. (Reporting by Fabiola Gomes; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)