Russia will ban aquaculture products from China (from January 2020)

On January 9, 2020, Russia will introduce temporary restrictions on import of some aquaculture types from China.

This decision was taken after inspections made by the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance at Chinese enterprises in December 14-27, 2019.

On January 9, 2020, Russia will introduce temporary restrictions on import from China for eel, tilapia, sturgeon, trout, species of shrimps (excluding Pandalus borealis, Sclerocrangon salebrosa, Pandalus latirostris, Pandalus montagui, Pandalus goniurus), as well as sea food mixes including the above mentioned species (frozen sea food mix).

During the inspections of Chinese enterprises Russian authorities revealed numerous violations associated with insufficient control over the safety of aquaculture products, the risk of undeclared use of drugs and hormonal drugs, as well as absence of or insufficient traceability system.

In addition, there was a lack of control over the storage of products and raw materials. For example, Russian authorities found products produced in 2013. Moreover, fish produced at Chinese enterprises contained mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.

Even before the inspections, Russia had sent information about all these violations related to Chinese products brought to the territory of Russia to specially authorized bodies of China, but there were no investigations of these facts.

My special opinion!

I would like to draw your attention to two important features associated with this news.

The first and the most important feature is that this information was published on December 31, 2019, one day before the New Year, the main holiday of the year in Russia. On December 31 ordinary Russians will not read the news, as thy will be busy with preparing for the New Year celebration.

The second important feature of this article is that it does not use the word “ban” on import, but the phrase “temporary restrictions” on import.

In fact, when this expression is used in Russia, it means this is not just a ban on import, but a ban for a very indefinite period. And there is no reason to hope that Russia will permit import of these products from China again.

Of course, ordinary Russians will welcome this news, since food and any products from China have always had a very poor reputation in Russia due to their poor quality.

But those Russians who are professionally involved in the Russian food industry will immediately understand the problems that will result from this news. This is the reason why this news was published in Russia on December 31.

For more than 10 years frozen smoked eel from China has been the main raw material for sushi restaurants in Russia. So, these restaurants will urgently need to find a replacement, which is very difficult. In Russia, eel is caught in very little amounts. This situation will lead to higher prices for dishes with eel or their removal from the menu.

Sturgeon and trout from China do not have a big market share in Russia. So, the ban on their import will not greatly affect the prices in Russia. Anyway, foreign companies need to know about this news, as this is a good opportunity to increase the supply of their trout and sturgeon to Russia.

Tilapia is a fish that has been developed in Russia for a very long time. It has eventually become one of the favourite fishes. Russians like its taste and the simplicity of its cooking. Almost every company that sells frozen fish in Russia has tilapia in its rage of products. Of course, the main supplier was China.

This news will be useful for foreign companies that manufacture and produce pangasius. This fish was positioned on the Russian market as a fish “very similar to tilapia” in terms of its taste and price. So, the sellers in Russia will replace tilapia with pangasius. In other words, the demand on this fish in Russia will grow.

And some comments about shrimps. Russia has a very good and big market of foreign shrimp. A lot is imported from Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.

Shrimps from China were cheapest shrimps in Russia. They were the smallest and had a lot of icing. Therefore, foreign shrimp producers have got a great chance to replace the Chinese in this niche of inexpensive shrimps.

To sum up, now is the best timing for expansion to the Russian food market for companies involved in aquaculture if their business is associated with telapia, eel, trout, sturgeon and shrimps.

If you are one of them, use this great opportunity before the others have done that. In Russia, customers do not choose foods that are cheaper, they have started choosing foods that are better and safer.

Yours faithfully,
Alexander Sinyanskiy
Business Adviser on the Russian Food Market  

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