Russia and Serbia: the state of the food & drink trade

Serbia is well placed to enjoy a thriving food and drink trade with Russia.

The opportunities are golden in Russia for Serbian manufacturers and food suppliers. It’s partly why Serbia annually organises its own national pavilion at WorldFood Moscow – Russia’s top international food and drink exhibition. Let’s find out what the nation has to offer Russian buyers – and where it’s food producers can score some big wins on the market.

Serbia: a non-EU food & drink producer

The biggest advantage Serbia has in Russia over its European partners is that it is a non-EU member state. And as anyone who has been paying attention to the Russian food trade in recent years will know, imports of key food groups from European Union countries are off the table in Russia right now. Serbia isn’t beholden to the same restrictions placed on EU produce. Fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood, and meat products from EU countries are under Russian import embargo. They can’t export there – but Serbia can.

Russia & Serbia see bilateral trade rise

Russia first enacted its ban in 2014, and since then Serbian agribusinesses have been busy. They identified significant gaps in the market – and reacted by aiming the fill them. As such, it’s trade volumes with Russia are rising year-on-year. In 2017, for instance, Serbian food supplies to Russia reached a new high of $567.8m in 2017 – a rise of around 25%. Reports from Russia’s state statistics service also say that between January-August 2017, Serbian vegetable exports to Russia rose 22%, with fruit exports also growing at a rate of 10%.

Again, this is most likely due to the fact that Russia is no longer interested in sourcing its fruit and vegetable imports from the EU. Even so, demand remains high across the nation – and it’s Serbia’s vegetable producers and fruit companies that are reaping the benefit.

Many delegations organised by the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia (CCIS) have been hitting Moscow over the past decade. In June 2018, for instance, the CCIS arranged for 15 Serbian companies to hold talks directly with three Russian retailers (H5, Azbuka Vkusa and Billa) to get more Serbian goods onto Russian supermarket shelves. CCIS’ Agricultural Director Velijko Jovanoic believes there is a real need to open up dialogues between Russian and Serbian business in order to make the mutual food and drink trade really fruitful.

The WorldFood Moscow exhibition provides the ideal platform for such discussions – but first let’s look at what Serbians could be offering at the event this year.

Fruits & vegetables top Serbia’s food exports to Russia

You can probably guess which product group Serbia is shifting the largest volumes of on the Russian market. It’s, of course, fruits and vegetables. Specifically, we’re talking apples. Data from the MIT Atlas of Economic Complexity, an online trade database, shows fully half of Serbian fruit exports that end up in Russia are apples. Those exports held a value of $121m in 2016, giving Serbia’s full fruit shipments a total value of $242m. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, plums, and other stone fruits, make up the next sizable chunk. Collectively, these supplies are worth close to $51m a year for Serbian producers.

Strawberry exports are also notable, valued at between $16-20m annually. Elsewhere, cheese and pork are other areas are proving popular products. Serbian cheese exports come to roughly $25m each year, whereas pork meat and pork products is a $7.1m export industry for Serbia on the Russian market. Sausages and frozen pork fillets are amongst the in-demand Serbian meat items in Russia. Serbia & the Customs Union

Russia is part of the Customs Union alongside partners Kazakhstan and Belarus – and Serbia is emerging as a top agricultural supplier to all three. Overall trade between Serbia and the Customs Union tops out at around $2.3 billion a year.

Why’s this relevant? Well it means Russia is more than just an end market in itself. It’s more a launching point to access those two other lucrative markets. Serbian manufacturers exploring Russia should keep this in mind.

Meet Russia’s key food & drink buyers at the international WorldFood Moscow exhibition

For Serbian food and drink producers looking to find their feet in a brand new, highly lucrative geography, there is only event to attend: WorldFood Moscow.

At the 2017 edition of the show, over 28,000 qualified visitors from 78 Russian regions and 89 countries, met and networked with over 1,400 exhibiting companies.

82% of WorldFood Moscow visitors said they were ready to make buying decisions with the companies they met at the show. Another 74% visited the event exclusively to meet new suppliers and partners.

Get your products the exposure they deserve to a massive dedicated audience of buyers, importers, distributors, and more industry professionals, at WorldFood Moscow.

Book your stand here.

For more information on the event, your market opportunities and how to you can take part in Russia’s leading food and drink trade show, contact our team today.