Putin’s Food Bans Make Russians Taste Higher Prices

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 25 2014 3:08 PM

You Say Potato, Russians Say 72 Percent More Expensive Potato

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Dmitry Medvedev (left) digs for potatoes.

Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, the Russian government banned food from those countries that sanctioned Russia over its actions in Ukraine. At the time, Russians spoke out in support of the bans, and Vladimir Putin’s approval rating soared to 87 percent according to a poll released on Aug. 7, the day the food bans on produce, meat, and dairy from the EU, the U.S., Australia, Norway, and Canada were put in place.

Now, however, the bans have forced a dramatic increase of Russian food prices. According to Statista, the price of potatoes has gone up 72.7 percent since Jan. 1. Chicken and pork prices have increased 25.8 percent and 23.5 percent, respectively. Overall, food in Russia has become 10 percent more expensive. (Of course, the impact isn't only on Russians—the food ban means, for example, that Polish apple growers will likely not be able to reap the profits of their harvest.)

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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, when announcing the bans, said that they would be in effect for one year, adding, "There's nothing good about sanctions, I've already said that many times, and this retaliation wasn't easy for us. … We were forced into it, but even under these conditions, we're sure we'll be able to turn things to our benefit."

Meanwhile, in response to the closure of four McDonald’s branches in Moscow last week—a move ostensibly made for health reasons but widely recognized as another strike against Western powers—Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich has promised that McDonald’s will not be banned outright. Maybe Russia could go so far as to deprive its citizens of fast food in response to sanctions, but as Yekaterinburg Mayor Yevgeny Roizman put it, “Hitting your own people doesn't make any sense.”

Emily Tamkin is an M.Phil. candidate in Russian and East European studies at Oxford. Follow her on Twitter.