The Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare Rights (Rospotrebnadzor) said that a study of confectionery produced by two Ukrainian firms - Konti and ABK - found breaches of consumer protection laws through inconsistent product labeling.
“In order to ensure the rights of consumers, [Rospotrebnadzor] suspends import into the territory of the Russian Federation of confectionery products produced in Ukraine,” it said.
The ban comes after months of unrest in Eastern Ukraine and allegations that Russia is supporting militia groups: claims it denies. Last month, Russia imposed an import ban on beef, pork, fruit, poultry, cheeses and milk from the EU, US, Australia, Canada and Norway.
Ukrainian confectionery exports
The leading Ukrainian confectioner Roshen has been banned from importing its goods to Russia since July 2013. The company’s pro-EU owner Petro Poroshenko became president of Ukraine in June.
Ukraine exports around 40% of its confectionery output, and around 94% of these exports go to the Commonwealth of Independent States which include former Soviet states such as Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, according to a report from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
We asked Rospotrebnadzor what was labelled incorrectly and sought comment from Konti, but responses were not forthcoming.
Konti operates a large confectionery factory in Donetsk, the most important city under rebel control in eastern Ukraine. The firm also owns a factory in the Russian city of Kursk and a fillings factory in Makeevka, not far from Donetsk.
Inna Petrenko, head of PR at Roshen, told us that its two Russian facilities continued to operate in Russia, but said sales in the country were declining.
“The share of Roshen export to Russia from Ukraine in its export portfolio constituted over 20%. The decrease of sales on territory of Russia is a continued process during the year 2014, as the situation is not improving, unfortunately,” she said.
Consumer safety or politics?
In March, Russian authorities raided Roshen’s two Russian factories in Lipetsk and froze the firm’s assets in Russian banks. The move was connected to a trademark dispute with part Russian state-owned company United Confectioners. Roshen was later given permission to resume Russian operations.
The Ukrainian government banned imports from United Confectioners in April, alleging domestic laws on food safety and labeling had been violated.
In July last year, Russia increased import tariffs on Ukrainian chocolate and other goods including coal and glass in retaliation for emergency duties Kiev placed on imported cars.