It announced yesterday that PSA for cheese, introduced less than three weeks ago, had been brought to a halt after “a disproportionate surge in interest for this measure from cheese producers in certain regions not traditional exporting significant quantities to Russia.”
“This move is a precautionary step to avoid the possibility of reaching the maximum volume of 155,000 tonnes so soon after the measure was opened on September 5,” the statement continued.
Figures seen by DairyReporter.com show that between September 8 and 21, 100,464 tonnes of cheese were offered into the EC private storage scheme.
Italy, which exported just 7,207 tonnes of cheese to Russia in 2013, accounted for 83,957 tonnes of this total.
The remainder was made up of cheese from Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, France, Germany, and Latvia.
DairyReporter.com understands Italian manufacturers of cheese registered under the European Union (EU) protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI) schemes are to blame for anomaly.
A source told DairyReporter.com that the PSA scheme had seemingly been used "to cover structural issues rather than the impact of the Russian embargo."
PSA volumes for SMP and butter were, however, “much in line with expectations and the measures remain open for these products," the EC statement added.
Dairy sector "covered"
On August 28, Brussels announced it would help finance the cost of temporary storage for butter, skimmed milk powder (SMP), and cheese registered under the PDO and PGI schemes for between 90 and 210 days.
The actions were designed to alleviate the impact of the one-year Russian ban on the import of beef, pork, poultry, fruit, vegetables, cheese, and milk from the EU, US, Australia, Canada, and Norway.
Around 250,000 tonnes of cheese, worth €980m (US$1.3bn), was exported from the EU to Russia in 2013 - making it the worst affected dairy product.
Finland (€133m, US$170.3m), the Netherlands (€242m, US$308.8m), Germany (€147m, US$187.5), Poland (€142m, US$142m), and Lithuania (€140m, US$179m) were among the worst hit ban the cheese ban.
Given the value of EU cheese shipments to Russia, the EC said at the end of August that “exceptional measures” would be taken to “cover the variety of cheese exported to Russia.”
Unveiling the "temporary exceptional" PSA scheme on September 4, the EC said that "for reasons of operational and administrate efficiency it is appropriate to set up a single private storage aid scheme covering all types of cheeses."
Pressed by DairyReporter.com, Roger Waite, spokesman for agriculture and rural development, EC, said there are “no immediate plans” to introduce a revised PSA scheme for cheese.
“Our feeling is that because we have PSA for butter and skimmed milk powder and intervention measures in place, the dairy sector is covered,” said Waite.