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Russia fails to fully replace food imports lost due to Ukraine, says service

November 12, 2014, 0:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, November 11. /TASS/. Russia’s imports of dairy products, pork, fruit and vegetables declined in October year-on-year with the country failing to fully replace food imports lost due to a war of sanctions over Ukraine, the Federal Customs Service (FCS) said on Tuesday.

It said the decline came even after countries of Southeast Asia and Latin America increased exports to Russia in August-October.

The dairy sector was the hardest hit, with imports of dairy products declining by 69% to 48.9 million dollars against October 2013, the service said.

However, Russia expects a growth in imports of dairy products in December, when products from Latin America will reach it, a senior expert for the dairy market at the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies, Viktoria Berlai, said.

Imports of vegetables from foreign countries, bar the Commonwealth of Independent States, declined by 50,6% to 33.8 million dollars in October 2014 year-on-year, the service said. It said Latin American countries had increased sixfold supplies of vegetables (beans, cabbage, garden radish, beetroot and carrots) to Russia in August-October as compared with the same period last year.

Imports of fruit and nuts declined by 21% to 293.5 million dollars in October 2014, while in September the decline was 11% year-on-year. In August-September, countries of Southeast Asia boosted their exports of these products to Russia by 25%, the Federal Customs Service said. It gave no information about fruit imports in October 2014.

Shortage of fruit and vegetables is already seen, the director general of FruitNews, Irina Koziy, said, adding that the assortment has thinned, prices have grown while the quality of products has deteriorated. The weakening rouble makes fruit and vegetables more costly as part of purchasing is made in dollars or euro, she said. “A growing cost of fruit and vegetables in Russia results in declining consumption,” the expert said.

Pork imports have dropped by 37.5% in October year-on-year. Brazil was the only alternative pork supplier to Russia in August-October, the president of the National Meat Association, Sergei Yushin, said. “There are practically no countries that can supply pork instead of Canada, the United States and the European Union. Chile is a minor exporter, while Vietnam, China and Thailand were closed,” he said. According to the FCS, Latin American countries increased pork exports to Russia by 76%, to 243 million dollars in August-October.

Russia came under Western sanctions, originally visa bans and asset freezes, for incorporation of Crimea in mid-March after a coup in Ukraine in February. Later, Western claims that Russia is taking part in hostilities in southeast Ukraine, which Moscow has repeatedly denied, resulted in more serious, sectoral, restrictions. In response, Moscow imposed on August 7 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.

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