Smolt slip through embargo net

Norwegian smolt could become the first product to be removed from Russia's embargo list.

Russia might soon soften the embargo on foodstuffs from Europe. The list will not be long, but crucial for Russian domestic production of salmon and potatoes.


Russian producers are now starting to warn the Government about the consequences of the nearly total embargo on foodstuffs. By the end of this week Russian federal officials will decide what products they will allow to import to Russia in spite of the comprehensive embargo on agricultural products and sea food from the EU, US, Norway, Australia and Canada, Kommersant reports.

Salmon smolt, seed potatoes, food additives and products for people with diabetics and allergies are likely to be taken out of the embargo list.

As BarentsObserver reported yesterday, the Russian Fish Union warns that Russia will have slaughtered its last farmed salmon by 2016 if the import of smolt from Norway is not resumed.

Norway is the biggest supplier of smolt to Russia, although there are only a few companies in Norway involved in the trade.  

Trond Davidsen, Director of Aquaculture at the Norwegian Seafood Federation, says to BarentsObserver that his organization had heard nothing about the possible lifting of the smolt embago. Fodder for farmed fish was never included in the ban, so that trade between Norway and Russia continues as before.

“The fodder is of course most precarious, since this is something they need every day”, Davidsen explains. He says that his organization has been asked to stop all trade with Russia:

“There are some who believe that Norway should stop selling fish fodder to Russia, but this is something we are not interested in. We only want to have the best possible relationship to Russian authorities and our Russian customers. This is big politics that we don’t really want to get involved in.”

The Russian Association of Potato and Vegetables Market Participants in a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture asks that seed potatoes should be taken out of the list over banned products. The largest supplier of seed potatoes is Netherlands, who has sold 10,200 tons to Russia so far this year. Russia produces only 10-15 percent of the needed amount of seed potatoes, Kommersant reports.

The embargo could also be softened when it comes to food additives like palm oil, of which Russian bought 35,000 tons of from Netherlands in January-July 2014. Without food additives from abroad the Russian confectionery industry struggles, Kommersant writes.