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Russia to end reliance on imported potato

patata russia

With the on-going sanctions limiting Russia’s imports, the country is reshaping its domestic potato production so that the country no longer has to rely on the world to provide its French fries. In 2017, Russia imported 94% of its French fries but has now invested in the necessary equipment to produce it locally, according to Sergey Korolev, head of Russia’s National Horticultural Union. With the market demand currently for around 106,000 tons annually, the new equipment has the capacity to produce 110,000 tons. “This will also contribute to the preservation of jobs at newly established processing enterprises, and will increase the safety and quality of the product,” said Korolev.

Large firms like McDonalds are also turning to locally sourced production, which until now was not considered of high enough quality. This also ensures greater economic stability in the face of currency volatility, fluctuating oil prices and foreign sanctions.

Meanwhile, the Russian Government is considering a bill proposing a complete ban or restriction on agricultural products, raw materials and food products originating in the US or other countries that support the US sanctions.

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Putin prolongs Western food ban

Spanish fruit and vegetable growers are among those asking the European Commission to urgently adopt new aid measures for them amid Russia’s extension of its veto on certain Western food imports.

Spanish fruit and vegetable growers are among those asking the European Commission to urgently adopt new aid measures for farmers amid Russia’s extension of its veto on certain Western food imports.

The Russian move came in retaliation to the EU decision to prolong until January sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

Russia’s original ban – which applied to food products including vegetables, fruit, beef, pork, fish and dairy products from the EU, the US, Canada, Norway and Australia – was introduced last August. Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was extending it, “by one year beginning from today.”

Fepex, the Spanish federation of associations of producers and exporters of fruit, vegetables, flowers and live plants, immediately called on the European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan to extend the exceptional measures used by the Commission to help EU fruit and vegetable growers affected by the existing ban.

In a letter to Hogan, Fepex said the Russian ban on the import of EU fruit and vegetables in force since last August had deprived the Spanish fruit and vegetable sector of the top non-EU export market. “There are no alternative markets that can compensate for this loss,” it said.

Fepex calculates Spanish fruit and vegetable exports to non-EU countries in the first quarter of this year were down 17% – a total of 218 million tons – on the same period in 2014. It said the extension of the veto “will worsen a major crisis in the EU summer fruit market” and called for the Commission to urgently adopt market crisis management measures.

Meanwhile, Murcia’s Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, a member of the European Parliament from Spain’s ruling Partido Popular party, in a written question in the Parliament has called for stone fruit to be covered under the earlier exceptional support measures.

He said these existing measures did not contain any exceptional support for Spanish plums, table grapes, kiwifruit, peaches, apricots or nectarines.

“Exports to alternative markets have not absorbed the 60,698 tons which were previously exported to Russia. Measures need to be taken therefore to prevent prices falling as they did between 2013 and 2014 (by 32.3% for plums, 36.7% for yellow flesh peaches and 44.9% for yellow flesh nectarines). The marketing season started in April and farmers are now extremely concerned,” he said.

Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin: Kremlin.ru [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons