A ban on the import of all dairy products and milk from Ukraine came into force in Russia this month.
The Russian agency in charge of agricultural products, Rosselkhoznadzor, said it would ban imports of Ukrainian dairy starting July 28 because of ‘numerous quality flaws found in its products’.
“The ban concerns, first and foremost, the imports of cheeses that might be hazardous since their production process includes palm oil of unknown quality and origin,” said Alexei Alexeyenko, deputy director, Rosselkhoznadzor, at the time.
According to the Russian news agency, Itar-Tass, the watchdog warned it would have to restrict the imports of all the foodstuffs from Ukraine if the government in Kiev failed to adopt the requirements of the Eurasian Customs Union (Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia) to the quality of imported European products before the signing of an agreement on Ukraine’s association with the EU.
It reported Lyudmila Manitskaya, executive director, the Russian Union of Dairy Enterprises, said the ban on Ukraine’s food imports ‘could help reducing the number of counterfeit products on the Russian market’. She claimed counterfeits formed the bulk of Ukraine’s cheese exports to Russia.
But, according to the Associated Press, Ihor Shvaika, agricultural minister, Ukraine, the ban is politically motivated as Russia criticised Ukraine's decision to sign a treaty with the EU in June.
DairyReporter spoke to Anatoly Yurkevych, CEO, Milkiland last month, when Rospotrebnadzor suspended imports of milk and dairy from seven subsidiaries of Milkiland-Ukraine.
Seven production facilities
Yurkevych said the restrictions did not address specific products but a group of seven production facilities, four of which have not supplied anything to the Russian Federation for over five last years.
“This fact suggests it has nothing to do with the quality of our products,” he said.
Russia and Ukraine are large players on the world dairy stage, Andrew Novakovic, professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University told agweb.com Russia is the fifth largest milk-producing country in the world and Ukraine, albeit geographically smaller is often mentioned as an emerging market economy among rising milk producers, along with Brazil, Russia, China and India.
"Although Russia is a big milk producer, it still hasn’t gotten over the mismanagement of the Soviet era and does exist in an agronomic climate that has more than usual challenges," Novakovic reportedly said.
"As such, it often flip-flops between having enough milk to go around and being a big buyer of butter or other dairy products. Ukraine is logically a likely source as it is typically surplus."