Russia food & drink market update: May

May in Russia’s food and drink industry brings some interesting news, including a new product line from a true gourmand, World Cup news, and a welcome return to the market for some old Turkish favourites.

Russia removes restrictions on Turkish tomatoes

Russia will allow imports of Turkish tomatoes as of May 1 2018, the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, Rosselkhoznadzor, said on Friday 27 April. The agricultural watchdog considers it possible to allow full, unrestricted imports of Turkish tomatoes into Russia at that time. This comes after nearly two years of negotiations after produce from Turkey was banned in Russia in November 2015.

Earlier, 20 Turkish tomato suppliers regained access to the Russian market. Now it is open to all producers that can supply evidence that their sites are free from tomato moth infestation. The current quota for Turkish tomatoes in Russia is 50,000 tons annually.

French film star brings a taste of France to Russia

Award-winning actor and food enthusiast Gerard Depardieu has launched a new range of food products “inspired by French traditions” in Russia. The range has been created by alongside Goûts de France (Tastes of France), a Russian company that promotes quality French cuisine in Russia by using “the best producers of foodstuffs and beverages in Russia and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States”. Products in the range include foie gras mousse, an assortment of jams and desserts, fillet of duck, mille-feuilles puff pastries. and even vodka. Each item comes with Gerard Depardieu’s seal of approval.

Supermarket chain Dixie has picked up Mr Depardieu’s products and will be selling them in Moscow and the surrounding region. “Food for the body is just as important as food for the soul. That’s why what we eat is of fundamental importance,” Mr Depardieu said at the range’s launch Moscow in April. “My idea was to have the Russian market discover products of local producers who are as passionate as I am about product quality and their beneficial effects.”

Gerard Depardieu has held a Russian passport since 2013 after leaving France for tax reasons.

More Philippines agriproducts heading to Russia?

Moscow sees lots of room for growth in agricultural trade between Russia and the Philippines, according to Russian Ambassador Igor A. Khovaev. “The Philippines is a tropical country, and Philippine tropical fruits and vegetables, especially mangoes, bananas, and pineapples, are in great demand in Russia,” Mr Khovaev said during the Business Mirror Coffee Club in Makati City, Philippines, in April. “It is the time for your country to supply agricultural products, especially tropical agricultural products, and seafood products, to the Russian market.”

Mr Khovaev added his nation is ready to supply wheat and “very, very clean” beef and poultry meat to Philippine partners. The Russian envoy has said measures have been taken at both Russian and Philippine ends to smooth up entry rules for mutual agricultural trade. “The Philippine’s side has already provided Russian colleagues with complete information and vice versa. It will pave the way for Filipino farmers to supply their products to Russia. We hope that it is done as soon as possible,” Mr Khovaev said.

FIFA World Cup to disrupt meat supplies

Strict security measures introduced by Russian authorities for the FIFA World Cup could disrupt meat supplies during the tournament. Regional governments have been instructed to prohibit transport of all chemical, biological, toxic, radioactive, and explosive substances within a 100km radius of all football stadiums and sports infrastructure between 25 May to 25 July. There are strong concerns that this could leave Russian retailers without meat, as well as leaving meat producers without raw ingredients needed for production.

The Russian Association of Retailing Companies, the National Meat Association (NMA), and several other food organisations, have sent an appeal to authorities in 11 host-regions asking them to specify transport restrictions. “NMA is confident that the regional authorities will make a detailed forecast on the consequences of the introduced restrictions and will avoid serious inconvenience for the citizens and losses for businesses,” Sergey Yushin, Chairman of the NMA, said. “One way or another, meat will not disappear from shops.” Russia is the host nation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup – the world’s largest football competition and one of the biggest sports events globally.