5 grocery sectors to watch in Russia

WorldFood Moscow covers the big food groups, like meat and dairy and fruits and vegetables – but it also includes everything else. Grocery and staple food producers are an essential part of the show’s makeup.

The grocery sector includes a world of foodstuffs. Everything from baby food to snack items falls under the umbrella of grocery. Russia’s food industry is just as varied as the grocery sector itself. Some key trends are changing buying habits, so let’s take a look at some of the segments exporters should watch in 2018 and beyond. Note: some of the products in the market segments mentioned below will have some overlap with those goods subject to Russian sanctions.

Russia’s top five grocery sectors

Oils and fats


Vegetable oils and spreads are an important sector, with the nationwide market worth in excess of $100 million. But, like many international markets, olive oil remains the dominant force in Russia. Imports clock in at just shy of $80 million, and offer an olive branch to those countries facing sanctions in Russia. You see, Russia sources 99% of its olive oil imports from EU nation states:

• Spain - $42.1 million – 53.8% market share
• Italy - $28.1 million – 35.9% market share
• Greece - $5.7 million – 7.3% market share
• Portugal - $1.6 million – 2% market share

Culinary fats, such as lards and other animal by-products, are also a way to engage with Russian buyers that operate outside of the retail sector. 24% of total sales of cooking fats between 2010-2014 went to the HoReCa sector, for instance.


Staple foods, such as pasta and rice, are just like their name suggests, important parts of diets worldwide. Russia is no different. While its pasta and rice markets are a little smaller than others, there are still lots of opportunities for suppliers in Russia.

It’s little surprise to see Italy as the leading exporter of pasta products to Russia. It holds a 49% share of the market, with imports worth $26.7m. However, Russia looks beyond traditional pasta producers to source its goods. China holds the second largest market share, 16%, with volumes of $8.46m.

Russians eat 6kg of pasta a year, which suggests at least one pasta-based dish eaten per week. Macaroni, penne, and spaghetti are favourites, although wide sheet pasta is rising in popularity in Moscow.

It should be worth noting that meat-filled pastas, such as ravioli, will not be eligible for export to Russia from EU manufacturers, as meat imports from those countries are banned.

Rice & staple foods

Russian cuisine is reliant on a number of staples, many of which are grown domestically. Buckwheat, for instance, is found in all sorts of Russian dishes.

While It’s true, Russia is a major exporter of cereal crops, there are still certain species that have to be imported to meet domestic demand. Rice is one such product.

Russia imported 214,652 tons of rice, including pilau, jasmine, white long grain, and basmati varieties, between January-November 2017. In monetary terms, these came in at around $86m.

India is Russia’s chief rice supplier, but its market hold is slipping. In 2016, for instance, Indian producers controlled 40% of the import market. By 2017, this had changed. Now, the market split looks something like:

• India – 25% market share
• Kazakhstan – 21% market share
• Thailand – 20% market share

Kazakh exporters actually enjoy a significant advantage over their non-CIS rivals. As a member of the Confederacy of Independent States and the Eurasian Economic Union, Kazakhstan has tariff-free access to Russia for many of its agricultural products.

That said, only producers in India, and Pakistan (8% market share) grows rices not found anywhere else – giving them exclusivity in Russia.

Jams & sauces

The import of jams to the Russian Federation is worth roughly the same as rice in volumes. That only goes to show how jam is more than just a mere spread in Russia – it’s an essential part of cooking and everyday dining.

Again, Russia produces extensive amounts of jam internally, but does import large quantities to suit domestic food manufacturing, or for consumer consumption. Key foreign brands include Lonran (China), Futurcorp SA (Ecuador), Viomar SA (Greece) and Indulleida SA (Spain).

According to data from the MIT Atlas of Economic Complexity trade database, Spain is the largest exporter of jam to Russia with shipments valuing $16.2m in 2016. South Africa holds second place with $10.9m, with Chile taking the final podium place with $8.02m.

In terms of sauces, mayonnaise and sour cream hold the bulk of the condiment segment. Ketchup is also a top product, with sales growing 22% during 2009-2015. Again, it is European players that hold the biggest share of the total $166m import market. Germany and Austria collectively represent 37% of Russian exports.

he prevalence of Asian cuisines throughout Russia, including Japanese and Chinese dishes, means soy sauce is a very popular product. Kikkoman, the world’s leading brand, also leads the way amongst Russian consumers too.

Canned goods & preserves

Pickled, canned, or tinned; the medium doesn’t matter, because preserved goods are seeing their Russian popularity rise.

Consumption of the main product groups looks like this:

• Canned vegetables & conserves – 10kg per capita/year
• Canned seafood – 2kg per capita/year
• Canned meat – 1.5kg per capita/year

Canned vegetables, such as sweetcorn, green beans, and mixed vegetables, are the favourite tinned good in Russia, as consumption shows.

Fish is often packed in a natural state, free from added sauces or flavours, in Russia, whether it’s salmon, tuna, crab meat, or other popular seafood species. Such products hold 50% of the tinned fish market, whereas fish in oil claim roughly a third of the market. Fish in sauce, like anchovies in tomato, takes third sport with a 21% share.

Russia’s recent economic troubles are behind this of canned good sales boost. The reason being, tinned or preserved products can be stored for much longer times, and are also a cheaper option for fresh vegetables – idea for cost-savvy consumers. In 2016, 3 million tons of tinned and preserved food was sold in Russia – meaning the market had grown one and half times since 2012 alone.