Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Andrei Danilenko, chairman, National Dairy Producers Union of Russia (SOYUZMOLOKO), rubbished suggestions that a reported feud between it and the Russian Union of Dairy Enterprises (RSPMO) was behind the attack on its members by the Russian Minister of Agriculture.
Last month, Nikolai Fedorov, the Russian Minister of Agriculture, claimed publicly that dairy products manufactured by Danone-owned Unimilk and PepsiCo business Wimm-Bill-Dann in the country are sub-standard and adulterated.
"In these products a maximum of 20% comes from real milk, the rest is a processed milk mixture with coconut, palm oil and other additives," Fedorov was quoted as saying.
PepsiCo rubbished the allegations and Danone the demanded a public retraction.
Maksim Fasteyev, senior dairy markets analyst at INFAGRO, speculated that the "permanent battle" between SOYUZMOLOKO and the Russian Union of Dairy Enterprises (RSPMO) could be behind Fedorov's claims.
"There is a permanent battle between two dairy unions in Russia," he told DairyReporter.com.
Danone and PepsiCo are former members of the Russian Union of Dairy Enterprises (RSPMO), which is, according to Fasteyev, a mouthpiece for the Russian Ministry of Agriculture.
RSPMO membership has dwindled in recent year, and SOYUZMOLOKO now claims to represent more than 70% of Russian dairy stakeholders.
“…all dairy conflicts should be observed from the point, because this is a war for the money of union members, government programs, and subsidy redistribution,” said Fasteyev.
SOYUZMOLOKO chief Danilenko rubbished such suggestions.
"I think it was a careless statement that journalists have blown out of proportion," said Danilenko.
According to Danilenko, Fedorov has not met with SOYUZMOLOKO representatives since he was appointed Minister of Agriculture in May 2012.
"This issue here is that unfortunately the Ministry of Agriculture is a political appointee and his schedule is overbooked, so he refers us to his deputies."
“This is an issue of miscommunication. He needs to be better informed on domestic issues.”
Who advised him?
Danilenko acknowledged, however, that the involvement of Vladimir Labinov, former executive director of RSPMO, in the situation is "very strange."
Labinov is currently head of the Ministry of Agriculture's Department of Livestock.
Backing Fedorov, Labinov last week told Bloomberg: "Criticism of global dairy producers is justified.”
"I can only assume that is who advised him," Danilenko said of Labinov.