Blog de SVPlants
7 Sep 2014
An analysis of the positive and negative consequences surrounding Russia’s ban on importing all vegetables from Europe.

Russia prohibits the import of all fresh fruit and vegetables from Europe.

As is now common knowledge, on 7 August the Russian Government published the list of products that are banned for imports into the Russian Federation, and which includes all fresh fruit and vegetables from all EU Member States. Other countries affected by this measure are the United States, Australia, Canada, Norway and Japan. 

 

  • EU exports to Russia and those countries most affected.

According to Eurostat, the total exports of fresh vegetables and tubers from the EU28 to Russia in 2013 amounted to 948,000 tonnes, valued at 769,098 million euros. The top exported vegetables were fresh tomatoes totalling 229,579 tonnes, followed by cabbages coming in at 91,192 tonnes. 

The EU country most affected by the Kremlin’s decision is Lithuania, with exports of banned fresh vegetables and tubers to Russia valued at 339 million euros, followed by Poland (173 million), the Netherlands (87 million) and Spain (72 million).

  • Countries benefiting the most from Russia’s ban on EU-imported vegetables.

Turkey is likely to benefit the most from Russia’s ban on fruit and vegetable imports. Neighbouring countries such as Belarus and Uzbekistan have also emerged as leading beneficiaries, alongside some Latin American nations and Morocco. High-level representatives from these countries have been holding negotiation talks with their Russian counterparts with an aim to relax phytosanitary controls on imports in order to make it easier for these alternative suppliers to enter the Russian market. 

 

  • Russia’s ban on fruit and vegetables may have an upside.

Doubts about the severity and duration of this measure have emerged from Putin’s decree, the Russian president protecting himself somewhat with the proviso that “the length of the ban on imports could be changed” within three months should the reduction in imports result in an excessive increase in the price of foodstuffs. The Russian government has already instructed regulatory agencies to monitor the situation in the domestic market to ward off an acceleration in the price of products.

But this supervening situation may also have an upside, that is, if the variables in play here are handled properly. If the European Commission acts swiftly and efficiently, this should toughen the plant protection measures related to fruit and vegetable imports from third countries, thus curbing the offer of products coming from outside so that the market can successfully absorb domestic productions. It is neither logical nor permissible that certain countries continue to introduce into the EU fruit and vegetables high in pesticide residue, which in some cases reach extremely dangerous levels. Recurring episodes of pesticide residue detection in imported products from certain countries must stop with immediate effect.

Some countries are going to benefit considerably from the absence of all European fruit and vegetables on the shelves of Russia’s stores and supermarkets, such as Turkey, Belarus, Uzbekistan and other Asian regions, North Africa and even countries from further afield, for example in Latin America. But the European Union must take the appropriate measures to ensure that products lacking in quality and sufficient health guarantees do not enter the EU markets; this also refers to foodstuffs that fail to comply with minimum social standards and even those that can strongly compete with domestic productions. If the measures adopted by Russia bring about a market crisis, then it is time to take bold decisions that yield positive results for EU producers and consumers in the medium and long term.

  • How will the banning measures adopted by the Russian government affect European producers and exporters of leeks and celeriac?

Reflecting on the general concern voiced in recent weeks about Russia’s ban on EU vegetable imports, we can conclude that leek and celeriac producers will not be the group most adversely affected by Russia’s decision.

Leek plants

The Russian Federation is the leading export market for leeks coming from the EU28. After Russia, the countries that receive the most tonnes of leeks from the EU28 are Norway, Canada and Switzerland.

Tonnes exported from the UE28 in 2013.

In 2013, leek exports from EU28 countries to Russia resulted in a total volume of 4,396t, valued at 4,358,295 euros. These figures represent 38% of the volume (in tonnes) corresponding to EU exports to third countries.

According to Eurostat, less than 2% of the total leek production in Europe is destined for Russia. As such, Russia’s ban is not expected to have a significant impact on European leek producers and companies. 

The countries worst affected by Russia’s restrictions are Lithuania, Belgium and Poland. 

Leek exports from EU28 countries to the Russian Federation in 2013.
Leek exports from EU28 countries to the Russian Federation in 2012.

Celeriac

The Russian Federation is the leading export market for celeriac coming from the EU28. After Russia, the countries that receive the most tonnes of celeriac from the EU28 are Norway, Switzerland, Belarus and the United States.

Tonnes exported from the UE28 in 2013.

In 2013, celeriac exports from EU28 countries to Russia resulted in a total volume of 5,458t, valued at 2,794,358 euros. These figures represent 62% of the volume (in tonnes) corresponding to EU exports to third countries.

According to Eurostat, 5.9% of the total celeriac production in Europe is destined for Russia. As such, Russia’s ban is expected to have a slight impact on European celeriac producers and companies. 

The countries worst affected by Russia’s restrictions are Lithuania, Poland and Belgium. 

Celeriac exports from EU28 countries to the Russian Federation in 2013.

Celeriac exports from EU28 countries to the Russian Federation in 2012.
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