Fruit producers in Belgium and the Netherlands are seeing their products sold as contraband in Russian supermarkets, despite the Russian food embargo. The trade in contraband pears is worth around 240 million euros, De Morgen reported on Saturday. The figures come from an inquiry done by Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.
Russia banned importing meat, dairy products, fish, fruit and vegetables from the European Union on the 7th of August 2014, in retaliation for sanctions the EU put in place after Russia annexed Crimea and the Russian army was sent into East Ukraine.
Since then, Russian fruit and vegetable importers have been buying Belgian and Dutch pears via Lithuania and Belorussia. They hide where the pears came from by buying fake certificates from corrupt sanitation authorities, in Africa for example. The pears are then sold as African and not Belgian.
This trafficking means that nearly half of Belgium’s pear trade with Russia has remained in place. At least 70,000 tonnes of Belgian and Dutch pears are sold in Russia every year, earning sellers in these two countries at least 56 million euros.
The Brussels Times