Russia’s decision to ban food imports from European Union’s 28 states and countries such as Australia, the US, Norway and Canada has received mixed reactions from various segments of the Russian Society. Together, these countries supply food items, including many basic products, worth an estimated $12.1 billion every year.
As the ban nears its execution, Russians have rushed to buy stocks of food items from their favorite international brands, things they would not get see for an uncertain timeframe in the future.
Empty shop shelves are not a new thing in Russia - such scenes were quite prominent in the Soviet era and became worse during deprivation of the 1990s.
Russians are seemingly stockpiling products like frozen chicken from France, tinned sweetcorn from the US and Italian Parmesan, among other things. Some have also invested in mounds of their favorite food items in case mass food shortages were observed.
The ban has, however, been welcomed by government officials citing that it will help the revival of the country’s own agriculture and help customers stay away from the cholesterol-laden food items from western countries that threaten to make the country a nation of overweight people.
Russia counts amongst the world’s top grain importers and so, there would be hardly any issue regarding an overall food shortage. The news is especially well received by country’s livestock farmers who supply three quarters of country’s chicken and pork, as they will no more have to face foreign competition.
But lack of food is hardly a concern for most Russians - it is the lack of choice they fear. Also, the scarcity of many options in the market will lead to price hikes of the food products in the market. This will certainly add to hardships of the population as the country is on a verge of recession.
The ban includes products such as meat, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables, and milk and dairy products. However, there is no ban on baby food and Western wine and pasta.