Russia blocks export of products in high demand

Russia blocks export of products in high demand
A sign in a Carrefour notifies customers that purchases of certain food stuffs will be limited to prevent stockpiling. Photo by Helen Lyons/The Brussels Times.

Beginning Friday, Russia is temporarily stopping the export of rapeseed and sunflower seeds, which are in-demand products for European importers who use them to make the oil used in all sorts of food products.

The export ban is in force until the end of August, the Russian Ministry of Agriculture announced in Moscow on Thursday.

The export of sunflower oil between mid-April and the end of August will be limited to 1.5 million tonnes, with the government hoping to secure enough supply for Russian consumers first.

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In Russia, many food products have become considerably more expensive after the West imposed sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine. Hoarding is taking place in many cities, and some supermarkets have begun rationing products.

Ripple effect for Europe

Many Belgian supermarkets are also imposing a limit on the amount of certain products customers can buy, not because there are supply issues yet, but in order to prevent the panic-buying and hoarding seen at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Belgium is a major consumer of sunflower seed oil, often in the production of its famous frites – now under threat due to limited supply.

Both Russia and Ukraine are major producers of that oil, along with grains and cereals, and the food sectors in European countries are feeling the pressure of limited exports due to the war between the two nations.

The Belgian government recently created a task force in order to prevent empty shelves in grocery stores as a result of the war.

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