An African adventure through Russia’s food & drink market

From the Ras ben Sakka on the northern coast to Cape Agulhas in the extreme south, Africa is a continent bursting with food and drink potential. What’s more, it’s exporters are waking up to exciting new export opportunities around the globe, especially in Russia.

African food exports to Russia on the rise

Russian sanctions on produce from the US, EU and other key allies are still in place in Russia, leaving some not insignificant holes in Russian supplies of in-demand foodstuffs. African nations were some of the quickest to respond when sanctions were first enacted in 2014, which has fed into larger import volumes for Africa’s exporters.
The biggest exporters are found in North Africa, where fertile lands blow away Saharan stereotypes. Lush greenery, bountiful orchards, and plantations bursting with life can be found across the region, especially in Morocco and Egypt.
Both sates have seen their agricultural goods are seeing rising interest from Russian buyers. While Russia is currently aiming for self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetable production, its crop farming sector is being held back by outdated machinery according to YugAgro.
This plays right into North African producers’ hands. Fruits, especially the citrus variety, are regional specialities. As such, export volumes are growing.
But Africa is a huge place. Across the continent, activity is picking up. Let’s head to the complete opposite end of Africa’s enormous spread, to South Africa, where exporters are establishing their own niche on the Russian food and drink import market.
According to Rex Bowden, Managing Director of South African promotion agency Catalyze said at WorldFood Moscow 2018: “Africa fresh produce is also growing due to massive international demand and there has been a steady growth in the output in Africa. All these factors point towards continued growth into Russia from African countries.”
These three nations are helping to put African food and drink products on Russia’s import map. Each has their own specialities, so let’s have a look in a bit more detail.

77% of Moroccan exports to Russia are agricultural goods

Just let that sink in. Over two thirds of Moroccan exports to Russia are foodstuffs. Morocco’s fruit and vegetable trade with Russia has grown 10% since 2014, demonstrating how sanctions have proved to be a boon for unaffected trading partners.
For Russian buyers, Moroccan tomatoes and fruits from the orange family are what they want, representing the largest volume product groups.
8% of tomaotes on sale in Russian grocery stores, supermarkets and retail outlets originate in Morocco. Morocco’s annual export volumes to the world’s largest country weigh in at a very impressive 75,000 tons.
If we switch variety, and concentrate on citrus fruits, more than a quarter of Morocco’s total citrus harvest ends up in Russia. That’s over 315,000 tons worth of mandarins, clementines, nectarines, plus lemons and oranges, exported every year.
Monetarily that’s over $260m each year in export revenues just from those two product groups.
However, further along the coast, another agricultural supplier, stirs, flexing its farming muscle and strong ties with Russian partners…

Egypt: A massive fruit & vegetable player on the Russian import market

Each year, the Nile bursts its banks and floods the nearby fields, letting life-giving waters flow over the land, turning them into verdant, productive farms. 
It’s from these plantations that Egyptian exporters harvest a considerable amount of delicious produce. An exceptional amount of this is packed up onto transporters before making its way to Russia.
Hisham al-Hassy, Head of the Egyptian Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, says demand for Egyptian produce from Russian importers is rising. Mr al-Hassy noted a 25% increase in produce exports in 2018 compared with 2017. During 2017, for context, Russia imported $307m worth of Egyptian foodstuffs.
However, other data is more optimistic – exceptionally so. The Head of the Egyptian Commercial Service, reports fruits and vegetables saw demand rise by 39%, whereas food products overall grew a massive 110%. 
The ratio of Egyptian food and drink items to overall exports to Russia floats around 60% of overall products. But what are Russians buying? Fresh oranges and citrus fruits on the whole. Those goods cover a third of total export values. 

South African food & drink also sees increased Russian interest

An exciting array of South African companies took part in WorldFood Moscow this year, responding to higher demand for their products from important Russian buyers. Moving away from produce, although this is still a very important export commodity for Southern Africa’s largest economy, wines and teas are in focus.
"Bottled wines have been growing at more than 10 percent in the last four years, increasing the number of South African wine brands in the country," said South Africa’s Foreign Economic Representative to Russia, Moloko Leshaba, WorldFood Moscow.
Wines imports have been rising steadily throughout as Russia sails clear of its recent economic crisis. Labels from across the globe, including sparkling and table varieties, are pouring into Russia with renewed vigour – something South Africa’s winemakers are enjoying. Their vintages are finding new homes in Russian wine cellars and racks, entering an import market worth over $630bn a year.

WorldFood Moscow: Providing the ideal trade platform for African food & drink in Russia

African brands large and small stand a great chance of succeeding in Russia, Sanctions won’t be removed until December 2019 at the latest, so the opportunities are there.
The WorldFood Moscow Exhibition attracts tens of thousands of distributors, wholesalers, retailers and buyers from across Russia and the wider world. Exhibiting is the perfect way for Africa’s myriad companies to get their goods onto the Russian market.
Interested in taking part? Book a stand here.
If you need more info, don’t forget to contact our team today for further details on the show and how you can take part.