Turkey among big gainers from Russia food ban

MOSCOW/ISTANBUL – Turkey and Latin American countries such as Brazil look likely to emerge as key winners from Russia’s decision to ban most European Union and US food imports in retaliation for Western sanctions over Moscow’s role in Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the one-year ban on Thursday on all meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the EU’s 28 member states, non-EU member Norway – a major exporter of salmon – Canada and Australia.

Russia’s Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) said on Friday it was holding meetings with food importers to discuss supplies from the new markets.

Russia spent $25.2 billion last year on imports in the categories affected by the new bans, nearly a third of that total from the countries hit by the bans.

Now the nascent middle class of Moscow and other cities could switch to Brazilian for US beef and get their fish from Turkey and Chile instead of from Greece and Norway.

Officials in Turkey predicted a near-doubling of their fruit and vegetable exports to Russia. Turkey is currently the fifth-biggest exporter of food to Russia, its neighbor across the Black Sea, with sales worth $1.68 billion last year.

Fish sales could also see a major boost as Russia will no longer be able to buy fish from EU member Greece, one of its leading suppliers, Turkish traders said. [Reuters]