The proposal has been put forward by the Sergei Lisowski, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Agrarian and Food Policy, who claimed that canned meat was not initially banned within the embargo due to a “clerical error”.
“This kind of product has a high added value. And during more than two years of requests, our Ministry [of Economy] has replied that the issue would be addressed and corrected, but yet again the anti-sanction list [of products banned within the food embargo] does not include these products,” he said.
He called on the Federation Council to consider the issue, claiming that the current situation – in which the country bans imports of fresh and frozen meat, but not some value-added meat products – seemed strange.
Meanwhile, the initiative has been criticised by other members of the Federation Council, who believe that it will hurt Russian consumers. Nikolai Vlasenko, a member of the council from the Kaliningrad Oblast, said the proposal to expand the list of banned products to include canned goods was motivated by a desire to promote the interests of agro-industrial businesses, but could negatively affect consumers.
“It is clear that Mr Lisowski is a typical lobbyist for the agricultural sector and it is clear that any representatives of the agricultural sector are pleased to have fewer competitors,” he said. “But I’m for natural competition and competitiveness. Only this way can we have the best goods and a low price. Any artificial reduction in competition through the prohibition of certain goods is always worse for the consumer. The consumer will lose out if we limit the choice of products.”
According to the Russian BusinessStat agency, the canned meat market is on the rise in Russia, mostly due to the fact that it always increases during times of economic crisis. Last year the volume demand for these products rose by nearly 4%, and could jump by another 10% this year. The total value of imported canned meat in Russia is estimated at US$31 million and rose 9.7% last year.
The largest supplier of canned meat in Russia in 2014 was Belarus, which accounted for approximately US$12m-worth of goods. Other countries that would be affected by this addition to the embargo include the biggest suppliers of canned meat to Russia: Poland with US$2.36m-worth of goods, the Czech Republic with US$2.31m and Italy with US$1.69m.