Israeli carrots vs. Russian farmers: Who wins the battle?

Carrots from Israel, cucumbers from Serbia, fruit from Africa - this is what most Russians can find in food stores nowadays after Russia embargoed food imports from European countries. Finding domestic products in Russian supermarkets is not an easy task. Why can't Russian consumers buy Russian food? Are they worse than imported food from overseas? 

This week, the Russian government has come to conclusion that it would be incorrect to oblige retailers to fill their stores with not less than 50 percent of Russian-made food products. Such a regulation would come in violation of Eurasian Economiс Union agreements, not to mention the likelihood of empty shelves in food stores.  

It goes without saying that Russia can not grow bananas and kiwis, but why buying cucumbers from Serbia, for example? Can't Russia grow its own fine cucumbers all the year round using  greenhouse technology?

Also read: Russia wants to feed Europe with organic food

Back in January of this year, former Agriculture Minister Viktor Semyonov told Pravda.Ru that with the help of greenhouse technology Russia could grow domestic vegetables 365 days in a year. 

"It's a shame, but we import even potatoes while destroying our own greenhouses. We still import greenhouse vegetables from other countries. There is absolutely no logic here. One must invest in this area of agriculture already now," Viktor Semyonov told Pravda.Ru.  

What happens to small farming businesses? According to Russian farmers, their food products can hardly be sold at Russian supermarkets, because Russian retailers do not see profit in selling domestic food. 

"This is because of the previously signed contracts, established business relations and better servicing that domestic retailers find in the face of foreign companies. Obviously, there are people who profit from it, - Director of the Center for International Agribusiness and Food Security, doctor of economic sciences Victor Lischenko told Pravda.Ru. - This is also a question of large and small batches of goods. For example, buying a large batch of potatoes from Russian producers is practically impossible. Such factors as washed and unwashed, standard and non-standard products also play an important role."

Also read: When is Russia going to lift food embargo to ease Europe's life?

As noted by Professor Lischenko, domestic manufacturers should follow the example from their European colleagues. Retailers want to sell carefully packaged and visually attractive goods. This is a law of advertising: people choose with their eyes when they go to buy food. Of course, a customer will buy some nice-looking and washed carrots instead of dirty carrots with lumps of soil on them, even if the latter come from local producers. 

In addition, many domestic retailers are registered in foreign countries. They do not profit from cooperating with Russian producers. What can the Russian government do at this point? 

"Fifty percent of Russian products in stores? That's a lot - Russian producers will not be able to supply that much, and consumers will be concerned. In Europe, the standard for this is 15 percent. We do not even know the structure of our imports. We do not have any stats for this. For example, we can buy domestic potatoes that was grown from foreign seeds," MP Elena Panina told Pravda.Ru.  

The state must provide support to small business in the first place. Small shops - this is where one can buy natural farm products. In addition, many people do not want Israeli carrots. People know that the carrots and cucumbers that they grow in their gardens are most delicious and good to their health, even though they may not look very nice. Obviously, there is great demand for ecologically pure farm products, but there is no sales market. 

Maria Snytkova


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov