Industry Report

Opportunities and challenges of the Russian food market

Russia is the world's biggest country and, with 145 million consumers, the largest consumer market in Europe. Its food market is highly regulated and challenging but is worth considering due to the market size and continuous growth. In our detailed report we explain how Swiss SMEs can enter the Russian market the easiest way and which regulations they have to consider.

Cheese

Russia is a large net importer of consumer-oriented products. The Russian food embargo imposed in 2014 has stimulated domestic production, which now accounts for 80% of the total retail market, up from 60% in 2014. However, importers in the premium and luxury segment have been largely untouched by this trend, and after the imposition of the embargo Switzerland remains the only European country allowed to supply dairy products to Russia. There is still growing demand from the premium retail market for high-quality Swiss cheese.

Bio, eco and organic

At the same time, Russia is increasingly becoming a consumer society. The main purchase factors are the brand and product quality. More and more Russians are becoming conscious about their health and are willing to pay more for products that improve their health and quality of life. A market survey by Nielsen shows that more than 84% of respondents in Russia have recently changed their eating habits. The organic market is also growing. According to GfK research, every fourth Russian is interested in farm products, and every fifth in products marked ‘bio’, ‘eco’ or ‘organic’. About 49% of consumers prefer foreign products over local products, as they believe that foreign origin ensures better quality. In this regard, Swiss brands enjoy an exceptional reputation in Russia.

Trade barriers

But the Russian food market is also highly regulated. Swiss companies face a number of non-tariff trade barriers when exporting to Russia: technical regulations, related product testing and certification requirements administered by different Russian government agencies. There is no unified database of Russian norms and regulations translated into English.

In our detailed report from our local experts at the Swiss Business Hub Russia, we show Swiss SMEs how to overcome these regulatory hurdles and successfully export to Russia.

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