Russia Became World’s Second Largest Banana Importer Last Year

In 2017, fresh fruit and vegetable imports into Russia grew by 17% compared to the previous year and amounted to 7.1 million MT. Of this volume, 22% corresponded to bananas, 20% to citrus fruits, 10% to apples and 7% to tomatoes. Last year, Russia became the world’s second-largest banana importer (1.5 million MT), losing first place to the US and overtaking Germany. Also, there was a significant increase in the supply of mandarins, watermelons, celery and avocados.

The agency’s experts associate the growth of imports with the lifting of restrictions on the import of Turkish products, a record import of Ecuadorian bananas, and the establishment of relations with China, Egypt, Azerbaijan and Moldova.

The largest supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables last year was Ecuador, which accounted for 21% of the total volume of Russian imports in this category. Almost all imports from this country consisted of bananas, which, according to the FCS, stood at 1.4 million MT; 11% more than a year earlier. The second largest supplier was Turkey, which accounts for 14% of all Russian fresh fruit and vegetable imports. In fact, Russia absorbs one third of Turkey’s total fruit and vegetable exports. According to the Federal Customs Service, Turkey’s most important export product in 2017 was citrus fruits, with almost 600 thousand MT shipped, mainly in the fourth quarter of 2017. The Russian market also purchased Turkish grapes, peaches, nectarines and apricots.

In third place was China, whose share is 10%. The most important Chinese products were tomatoes, with sales volumes increasing by 26%, to 109 thousand MT, as well as apples (with a 13% drop, down to 100 thousand tonnes). China also supplied onions, mandarins, cabbage, grapefruit, bell peppers, carrots and pears. As noted earlier by the press service of the FCS, the physical volume vegetable imports from China increased by an average of 1.4 times.

Imports from Belarus, which ranked fourth, dropped to 540 thousand MT, compared to 630 thousand MT in 2016 and 1.1 million MT in 2015. The main Belorussian products exported were peaches and nectarines (88,000 MT), tomatoes (70,000 MT), pears (77,000 MT), potatoes (51,000 MT) and apples (47,000 MT).

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Russian fruit and vegetable imports partially recovered

When compared to the previous year, Russian imports of fresh fruit and vegetables have increased considerably over the last year. A total of 7,1 million MT was imported, 17% more than in 2016. It is, however, not nearly as much as in 2013. In the year before the boycott came into force, Russia imported almost 8,5 million MT of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The (partial) recovery of the imports is, firstly, due to the boycott of various Turkish products being lifted in 2017. In addition, a record volume of (Ecuadorian) bananas and products from other countries were imported. The most important of these countries are China, Egypt, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. The record volume of banana imports is particularly noticeable. Last year, Russia surpassed Germany and is now the second largest importer of bananas in the world, besides the United States. Russia also imported a record volume of mandarins, it’s second most popular import product. Russia is by far this product’s most important import country. Russia’s import volumes of all other regularly consumed products also rose in 2017. This country’s import volumes of lesser-known products, such as kaki, garlic, watermelon, celery, avocado, and mangoes, also reached record highs in the past year. (more…)

Russian Apple Production is a Long Way From Self Sufficiency

Despite efforts to become self-sufficient in apple production after the embargo, recent figures confirm that the country is far from being able to produce enough apples to meet domestic consumption.

According to the Ministry of Health, the average Russian consumes 50 kg of apples per year, yet, according to AB-Center, recent total production would only amounts to 5.8 kg per year per consumer. This amount includes all apples, including those for processing, so when it comes to the amount of apples for fresh consumption, the amount per person would fall even lower.

Although it seems like self-sufficiency is far from a reality, Rosstat has estimated that the total production of top fruits, a majority of these being apples, did grow by 15% in 2016. In addition, independent experts have reported that the share of imported products on shelves has, for the first time in many years, given way to Russian apples.

Although apple imports have decreased since the embargo, a recent report from UN Comtrade said that Russia is still number 3 on the list of largest apple importers in the world in 2016, with a share of 6%, totalling 678,600 mt of fresh apples. This amount had already reached 622,200 mt in the first 11 months of 2017.

In the first half of 2017, the majority of apple imports were coming in from Serbia and Moldova, with 32.1% and 26.2%, respectively. Other major suppliers include China, Belarus, Chile, Azerbaijan, South Africa and New Zealand. Bosnia and Herzegovina had also been a significant apple importer to Russia, but this is currently on hold after Rosselkhoznadzor placed a ban on the country following suspicions that they were exporting apples from Poland as their own.

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Russia Renews Ban on Import of Apples from Bosnia and Herzegovina

About a year and a half after the regular export of BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) apples in Russia was resumed, the ban is set to take effect again. The reason behind this is that inspections have once more determined that some enterprises in Republika Srpska violate the agreement.

The ban had originally been imposed when there was a problem with the origin of the apples: although they appeared as RS products, they turned out not to be. They  originated, in fact, from other countries. The agreement between Russia and BiH says that apples and other fruit and vegetables must be an original BiH product, not the product from third countries.

Balkaneu.com reported that Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, Mirko Šarović, confirmed that the Russian Federation has again imposed a ban on imports of apples from BiH that comes into force Monday, January 22. He explained that the certificate for controversial apples was issued by the phytosanitary inspection in Brcko District, BiH, and transported to the Russian market as a local product.

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Russia Has Destroyed 19,000 MT of Food Since Import Ban

Over 19,000 tons of banned western food products have been destroyed as of Tuesday, Jan. 9, Russia’s state agriculture watchdog said in a statement published on its website. The ban was introduced in August 2014 in retaliation to Western sanctions imposed on Russia following its annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Since then, the country has destroyed hundreds of tons of fruits and vegetables, cheeses and livestock products.

Only 278 tons of the confiscated products remained untouched, Rosselkhoznadzor added.

The practice of destroying foods dates back to August 2015, a month after President Vladimir Putin ordered the physical destruction of fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and other agricultural products imported to Russia from the blacklisted countries.

The ban has been extended until late 2018.

Meanwhile, the EU has demanded 1.4 billion euros in compensation from Russia for banned pork.

www.themoscowtimes.com

Moscow expanded sanctions

Expanding the list of products under food embargo against the West in the Russian government explained the desire to close the grey import schemes of the sanctions. This was stated by Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich on October 27.

“We have thus closed the gray supply channels, which were used for deliveries of some goods under the guise of others and caused damage to Russian manufacturers”, — has explained Dvorkovich. According to him, such schemes are typically used in the supply of offal meat and live pigs.

At the same time to impose sanctions against purebred breeding pigs, the government did not, to preserve the possibility to create high-performing pig farms in Russia.

Earlier on 27 October, Russia expanded sanctions against Western countries. The ban includes live pigs and pork from EU countries, USA, Canada and some other countries. Also the ban includes pork and poultry fat of cattle, sheep, goats, and animal oil.

The Russian government stated that the food ban was extended till December 31, 2018.

www.rusreality.com

Turkish Tomatoes Going to Russia from 1 November

Four Turkish tomato exporters have been granted permission to export to Russia. Russia has, however, set a quota limit of 50,000 MT for the export of Turkish tomatoes.

According to the Russian Minister of Energy and Vice Chairman of the Russian-Turkish intergovernmental Commission, “The decision was taken to amend the regulations, thus granting four companies permission to ship 50,000 MT of tomatoes to Russia.” The first Turkish tomatoes should arrive in Russia since 1 November.

Russia banned the import of vegetables and fruits from Turkey on January 1, 2016, after the Russian-Turkish conflict over a Russian Su-24 plane. Restrictions were lifted gradually, only the import of Turkish tomatoes remains under the ban. Until January 1, 2016, they had the biggest share of Turkish vegetable exports to Russia – 360,000 MT a year.

www.freshplaza.com, www.interfax.ru

Russia to Strengthen Controls over Fruit and Veg Imports from Three CIS Countries

The Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) reported that due to the increased attempts to supply banned products via Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, the control over the import of fruits and vegetables from these countries will be strengthened.

According to the service, products from third countries are allegedly supplied to Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan and then attempts are made at re-exporting them under the guise of products produced in these countries. The monitoring will be particularly strict in the case of tomato shipments, as each single lot will have to contain information about the producer.

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EU Fruit Still Slipping into Russia Despite Sanctions

Despite ongoing sanctions imposed by Moscow on fruit and vegetables from European Union countries in response to EU measures banning the sale of produce from Russia, large quantities of fruit such as nectarines and peaches from the bloc’s warmer member-states, including Greece, Italy and Spain, are reaching Moscow shelves in a steady supply, with Belarus-based middlemen seen as the prime suspects in the illicit trade.

Belarusian traders are suspected of slipping through the sanctions net and passing off Mediterranean fruit exports as their own – likely with the assistance of Russian officials.

Initial reports of a doubling of Belarus exports of nectarines and peaches to Russia failed to raise eyebrows, even though the landlocked Eastern European country is not a major producer of either fruit.

It later became apparent that produce hailing from Italy and Spain was reaching the Russian market.

Recent reports have indicated that traders with links to the Russian market are sweeping through northern Greece, a key crop-growing region, and buying large quantities of fruit including nectarines and peaches.

A recent survey conducted by Kathimerini confirmed that Greek produce is widely available at retail outlets in the Russian capital.

Russia largely depends on imports for its fruit and vegetable supply.

Last year, the authenticity of trade documents certifying the origin of products exported by Belarus had been questioned by Russian officials.

Despite the EU-Russia sanctions, Greek traders are well aware of the fact that it is still possible to export to the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), a five-member common market with a combined GDP of more than 3 trillion dollars comprising Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

Getting cargo into any of Russia’s fellow EEC members enables unobstructed entry into the Russian market.

Meanwhile, Greek olive oil exports to Russia – the product category is not included in the sanctions – have almost doubled, rising by 91 percent to 3.1 million dollars’ worth of trade in the first half of 2016, compared to 1.6 million dollars during the same period a year earlier.

www.ekathimerini.com

Tomatoes in Game of Yes-No Between Russia and Turkey

Last week’s meeting between Russia and Turkey has yet to provide clarity about the tomato boycott, but the yes-no game isn’t over yet. In the run-up to the meeting, contradictory reports were heard. After last week’s meeting, only one thing became clear: nothing is clear yet, so borders will remain closed for now.

The choice of words of both parties after the negotiations illustrate the confusion. The Turkish Minister of Economic Affairs Nihat Zeybecki said in Turkish media that various agreements had been reached. For the remaining small problems he expects a solution before 20 October (when there’s a meeting in Kazan). “There are just one or two very small things regarding agrarian products. We agree on all major lines. I am certain all problems will be completely solved before 20 October.” Specifically about the tomato boycott the minister said: “In the near future we hope for a positive solution from the conversations with the Russians about lifting the sanctions.”

“Proposals for liberalisation of the tomato trade will be prepared separately within parameters between the Ministries of Agriculture,” according to the Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak in Russian media. When asked if the sanctions could be lifted by 20 October, he answered: “Yes, definitely. We have confidence that all will become clear before the meeting of the intergovernmental commission.”

A Russian analyst illustrates the different points of departure of the two countries for Turkish website Vestnik Kavkaza. “Our growers are unable to deliver tomatoes that can compete with the Turkish ones. It is obvious that Ankara is very interested in an end to the boycott, but our growers aren’t interested at all.” Earlier the Russian Ministry of Agriculture said he wants to protect the investments that have been made in the Russian cultivation of tomatoes.

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