26 Feb 2024 15:48

Latvia tightens control over food imports from Russia and Belarus, creates list of prohibited products

RIGA. Feb 26 (Interfax/BNS) - Latvia's Food and Veterinary Service (FVS) will enhance control over the supply of food and feed from Russia and Belarus for six months, the service said.

FVS commenced enhanced controls on February 24 to ensure, inter alia, that cargoes comply with EU requirements, and to prevent consumers from being misled regarding the characteristics, composition, shelf life, country or place of origin of these goods. At least 10% of goods of certain groups, such as peas, grain products, oilseeds, and animal feed, which come from Russia and Belarus, and at least 5% of these goods from third countries, will be subject not only to documentary, identification and physical testing, but also to sampling for laboratory testing.

The service said that, in 2023, 2.5 million tonnes of various food products imported from Russia and Belarus, including feed, grain, vegetables, seeds, drinks, confectionery, coffee, tea, etc., were presented for FVS inspection at the border.

At the same time, the Latvian Ministry of Agriculture submitted draft rules for approval that list agricultural products and feeds that would be prohibited from being imported from Russia and Belarus. The document is posted on the portal of legal acts.

It is stipulated that, in particular, the import of peas, wheat, wheat-rye mixture, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, grain sorghum, buckwheat, safflower, barley beans and other grain products, whose countries of origin are Russia or Belarus, will be prohibited. The import of soybeans, peanuts, copra, flax seeds, rapeseed or rapeseed, sunflower seeds, other oilseeds and fruits, as well as flour and meal from oilseeds and fruits, except mustard, will also be prohibited. The ban will also apply to the import of seeds, fruits and spores for sowing, and hop cones, plants or parts of plants used primarily in perfumery and pharmaceuticals or for the preparation of insecticides and fungicides or for similar purposes. The ban also affects sugar beets and sugar cane, fruit seeds and other plant products. It will not be possible to import straw and husks of grain crops, fodder stalks, fodder beets, root crops, hay, alfalfa, clover, sainfoin, kale, lupine, vetch and other feed products. In addition, the importation of products for use in animal feed, including for dog and cat food packaged for retail sale, will be prohibited.

These products make up 96% of Russian agri-food products imported into Latvia, the FVS said. Importation of feed into Latvia, including grain and feed raw materials, is conducted by 16 companies, nine of which are engaged in logistics, and seven in the wholesale trade and production of certain types of products.

The Agriculture Ministry says that these seven enterprises purchase feed products and raw materials of Russian origin for distribution on the Latvian market or for their own production. They imported 62,200 tonnes of products from Russia in 2023, or 4.9% of all feed products and raw materials of Russian origin.

As reported, on February 22, the Latvian Saeima approved amendments to the law on agriculture and rural development in the final reading. They prohibit the import of agricultural products from Russia and Belarus. According to amendments developed by several ministries, the import of Russian and Belarusian agricultural and feed products into Latvia is also prohibited from third countries. The ban will be in force through July 1, 2025, but can be extended if necessary.

Last year, imports of grain products from Russia reached 423,732 tonnes, which is 59.9% more than in 2022, Latvia's State Revenue Service said. The products were valued at 89.008 million euro (an increase of 11.7%). They include 294,844 tonnes of corn, 53,243 tonnes of rye, 74,640 tonnes of wheat and wheat-and-rye mixture, 986 tonnes of triticale and 20 tonnes of barley.

Imports of corn doubled and rye increased 61.5% compared to 2022, while imports of wheat and wheat-and-rye mixture decreased 10.2% and triticale was down 87.9%. No barley was imported in 2022.

Grain products in the amount of 2.137 million tonnes were transported from Russia through Latvia to other countries in 2023, which is 2.2 times more than a year earlier. Transit volumes of wheat and wheat-and-rye mixture more than doubled to 1.68 million tonnes. Additionally, 289,168 tonnes of corn (an 87% increase), 109,609 tonnes of barley (a 730-fold increase), 51,067 tonnes of rye (a 27% increase), 4,330 tonnes of triticale (a 72.7% decrease), 2,136 tonnes of oats (a tenfold increase), 878 tonnes of rice (a 30% decrease) and 157 tonnes of grain sorghum (a 2% increase) were transported from Russia through Latvia to third countries.