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WorldFood Moscow Market Survey Part 1: Optimism on the rise

After an uncertain couple of years, rocked by embargos and an underperforming economy, Russia’s food market is encouraging optimism once more. That is the message coming from exhibitors who attended the 2016 edition of WorldFood Moscow during September. 

ITE Food & Drink’s Market Insights team chatted to over 50 exhibitors at WorldFood Moscow 2016 to take the pulse of the Russian food market. Speaking to company representatives directly at their stands, our team asked a standard set of questions regarding their experiences in Russia over the past 12 months – and their hopes for the future. 

As part of an ongoing series, we are sharing what our respondents’ thoughts with you. Part one takes a look at optimism in the Russian market, while further instalments will focus on the challenges of doing business in Russia and how foreign firms can find success.

Who did we speak to at WorldFood Moscow?

The companies we spoke covered the length and breadth of the food industry. Our team chatted to representatives from fruit and vegetable exporters, seafood firms, food packaging companies, logistics providers and more. 

The audience was truly international, befitting WorldFood’s clientele. Companies from as far afield as East Asia, South America and Europe, accompanied by CIS-located enterprises, spoke with ITE Food & Drink to share, dissect and disseminate their thoughts on Russia’s food sector.

Companies both old and new were surveyed. Respondents had been active in Russia for an approximate average of 1-5 years, yet a clutch of newcomers were making their first appearances at WorldFood Moscow in 2016. Joining them were a number of veteran businesses with many years’ experience in Russia under their belts.

Length of time in the Russian Market chart

Optimism in Russia’s food and drink market makes a comeback

The tumultuous changes, food bans, political manoeuvring and economic meltdowns Russia has experienced recently has done little to dampen WorldFood Moscow’s exhibitor’s spirits. An overwhelming majority of survey participants expressed varying degrees of optimism towards Russia. 

Optimism on the Russian market

While just over 15% of respondents felt Russia’s prospects were in the negative, they were overwhelmed by the nearly 85% of positively minded participants. Close to 24% urged caution, yet believed Russia’s food sector holds future promise.

Is recovery on the way? A renormalisation of relations with Turkey, one of Russia’s biggest food trading partners, certainly sparks hope for non-EU countries. For European companies, the story is the same as it has been since 2014. Food bans are still in place, and look set to remain until at least 2018. 

Many of the companies surveyed by ITE Food & Drink pointed out the enormous size of Russia’s market, over 143 million inhabitants, and the historic resilience of the state. “People need to eat”, was a popular mantra at 2016’s WorldFood show, and it is a valid point. Russia cannot grow all food varieties and products its populace demands. 

While the Putin administration is working towards self-sufficiency in food security, this is still many years away. Until then, food imports will remain a heavy feature of Russia’s international trade activity.

However, if the word from WorldFood Moscow is to be believed, non-EU exporters are experiencing growing confidence in Russia’s food and beverages sector.

Check out part two of our WorldFood Moscow market survey series to see what challenges the Russian market posed in 2015.

Read more: WorldFood Moscow Market Survey Part 3: Finding success & learning lessons

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Tony Higginson

International Sales Director


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