Russian President Vladimir Putin recently placed a year-long ban on a number of foreign food imports in response to sanctions relating to the conflict in Ukraine. The ban prohibits a number of products from the United States, Europe, Norway, Canada and Australia, including meat, fish, milk, dairy products, and processed foods. However, the ruling reportedly allows olive oil to be imported from Greece, Spain and Italy, in addition to other popular products, like wine and coffee.
Over 40% of Russia’s food is currently imported from foreign nations, causing the country to purchase $30 billion worth of food every year. This makes Russia extremely dependent on outside food sources, but also creates a sizable export opportunity for a number of nations. As a result, the product blacklist, which covers 52 categories of international products, is expected to directly cause a combined loss of revenue totaling between $8.6 and 9.5 billion USD. Norway and Poland are believed to have the most to lose, as both countries exported over $1 billion in food products to Russia last year, most of which are now banned.
However, given that olive oil and other products are still allowed to be imported, many are estimating that Spain, the top oil-supplying country in Europe, will face minimal losses due to the blacklist. Additionally, as Spain exports 76% of its agricultural products, including olive oil, to the European Union, and less than 2% to Russia, it’s agricultural export industry is largely safe from the effects of the ban. However, Spain, Italy and Greece are all expected to lose several hundred million dollars as a result of Putin’s sanctions.
“There is a growth in olive oil production, so it’s good that there is someone that is going to absorb the growth,” says Rebb Firman, Owner of Pollen Ranch. “The production of olive oil and it’s uses are up significantly mainly due to it’s health benefits.”
In a recent statement, the European Commission has criticized the food ban as being politically motivated. However, they also stated that they are waiting for further information to properly assess the action. For now, we can only wait to see what effects this blacklist will have on the international market, as well as the people of Russia.