Russian restaurateurs react to food import ban

Russian restaurateurs react to food import ban

7 August 2014
Text Nadia Beard

With Russia preparing to impose a year-long ban on fruit, fish, meat, vegetables, milk and dairy imports from the EU, US, Australia, Canada and Norway in response to sanctions over Ukraine, The Calvert Journal asked several restaurateurs how the embargo would affect the restaurant business?

Ivan Shishkin, owner of Moscow restaurant Delicatessen, told The Calvert Journal that the move was “more a sanction from Russia against itself, its food market and its consumers rather than against EU or American exporters”.

Roman Burtsev, founder of Solyanka club and bar in Moscow, said the ban would result in higher food prices. He said: “If you limit the number of products on the market then the prices of everything will go up. The cost of eating out will rise, because if I have to pay more for something, then I also have to sell it for more, so the consumer will definitely be affected by this, and maybe fewer people will eat out as a result.”

Even eateries serving Russian or regional food are expected to be affected with many sceptical about the suggestion that the ban would boost their popularity. Burtsev: “It’s not just foreign food restaurants that need imported goods, Russian ones do too. Even the Russian and Central Asian restaurants use meat, vegetables and dairy products from abroad, so they’ll be hit as well.”

Others are more optimistic about the resilience of Russian restaurants to cope with the ban. Karem Benmamar, a chef for the Novikov Restaurant Group, told The Calvert Journal that the industry would source produce from different countries: “It’s too early to feel the full extent of the import ban, but we will probably manage to get the same produce from somewhere else, though it won’t be the same quality. We can get meat from countries which are on better political terms with Russia.”

Since Moscow announced the ban, Argentinian meat producers and Brazilian chicken farmers have expressed an interest in supplying their products to Russia.

List of banned items:

• Cattle meat: fresh, chilled or frozen
• Pork: fresh, chilled or frozen
• Poultry and its subproducts: fresh, chilled or frozen
• Salted, dried or smoked meat
• Fish, shellfish, scallops and other aquatic invertebrates
• Milk and dairy products
• Vegetables
• Fruit
• Nuts
• Sausage and similar meat products
• Cheese and similar products

Social media has exploded with a number of concerned (and not so concerned) responses to the import ban…

See also: Yes we ban! Who and what has Russia forbidden? Take the quiz