Finnish Food Exports to Russia Come to a Halt
published today 05:02 PM, updated today 08:56 PM
Most of Finnish foodstuffs exports to Russia have come to a halt. Several consignments of meat and dairy products en route to Russia were turned back at the border on Wednesday. A temporary restriction on imports introduced by Russia is to blame.
Russia justifies the restrictions by claiming the operations of several Finnish food producers do not fulfill Russian legal requirements.
The Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira) says the problem has strong repercussions for the entire Finnish food industry.
Evira’s Import and Market Inspection Director Kyösti Siponen says the dispute stems from inspections made by Russian officials in various countries on foodstuffs supplied to them. “Last May, they visited about 23 dairies and meat processing facilities in Finland. Their report has just been issued in Russia,” he notes.
Finnish officials have no precise data as to what deficiencies in Russian eyes exist in Finnish food processing plants. However, Siponen says details of the Russian report will be sent to the firms concerned.
“They have inspected these plants and stated that in some ways they not conform to demands set by Russia,” Siponen adds.
The Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, Sirkka-Liisa Anttila, says officials are investigating where the problem lies. Anttila says she had the impression Russia wanted to examine the problem with Finnish suppliers.
Exports to Russia Up in Recent Years
Finnish exports to Russia have increased considerably recently. The value of exports totaled almost 21 million Euros in January, which is about one-fifth more than a year ago. Russia’s share of Finnish food industry exports ia almost a quarter.
According to information received by YLE, the export ban affects about ten Finnish producers including Atria, HK Ruokatalo and four Valio plants. The restrictions have also come as a surprise to the producers affected.
In the view of Russian domestic and foreign policy expert, Professor Markku Kivinen of the Aleksanteri Institute, the move is an example of growing protectionism with the aim of strengthening the country's own food industry.