Gennady Onishchenko, head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor), told Ukraine's news agency Interfax on Monday that Russia had banned imported confectionery from Roshen after testing raised quality concerns. Rospotrebnadzor has since released an official statement on their website confirming the ban.
Yet Inna Petrenko, director of PR at Roshen, told ConfectioneryNews that no information had been received from Rospotrebnadzor since 11 July, despite Roshen sending an official request to the authority for confirmation of the ban. “The situation is very unclear for us,” said Petrenko.
Indignation from Roshen
In a statement on their website, Rospotrebnadzor announced the suspension of imports from all four of Roshen's Ukrainian factories - in Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Mariupol and Kremenchuk - due to the detection of unacceptable levels of Benzo[a]pyrene in Roshen chocolate. Roshen's factories in Lithuania and Hungary and two production facilities in Russia were not mentioned in the statement.
According to a Interfax report Rospotrebnadzor said that the Roshen products were unsafe and showed a "systemic violation of Russia’s consumer rights legislation."
Petrenko told us that Roshen has halted its exports to Russia voluntarily until it receives further information from the appropriate authorities.
An indignant Roshen has published all of its safety certificates within its latest press statement, and said that it is currently trying to reach Rospotrebnadzor to resolve the issue. Petrenko also claimed that the alleged Benzo[a]pyrene traces are to an extent expected in the roasting process.
Roshen added that it had been supplying markets such as Russia, America, Canada, Germany and Israel for over 15 years without ever receiving complaints against its cargo execution procedures or customs cargo declarations.
Tit for tat?
The alleged ban on Roshen comes after the Ukraine recently issued an emergency import tax on automobiles, a move that would make exportation of cars to the Ukraine more expensive for Russia.
The World Trade Organization gave countries affected by the tax permission to levy an equivalent tax on Ukrainian imports. Russia has targeted Ukraine’s confectionery industry, whilst Turkey has announced plans to retaliate by targeting Ukrainian walnuts.
One of the biggest confectionery companies in Russia, United Confectioners, is part-owned by the state.
Petrenko said that they were unable to draw a definite link between the tax spat and this recent ban. “It could be, we cannot say. The situation is unclear for us."
We have contacted Rospotrebnadzor, but our calls remain unanswered.
UPDATE: Press in Moldova report that the country could be considering a ban on Roshen products. The reports say that toxic substance Benzopyrene was found in Roshen chocolate.