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Russia: the trade deficit is slowly shrinking

28/10/2021 - François-Xavier Branthôme - Lire en français
Over the past seven years, Russia has halved its expenditure

The market for processed tomatoes in Russia is expanding
 The ICE-Agenzia per la Promozione all'Estero e l'internazionalizzazione delle Imprese Italiane (ICE-Agency for the Internationalization and Promotion Abroad of Italian Companies) held a world food trade fair this fall in Moscow from 21 to 24 September 2021. The event, now in its 30th edition, is the most important international trade fair for agri-food products in Russia and bordering countries.
During this event, a market analysis was presented, carried out by GruppoBPC International, which monitored consumption trends ( This study provides a positive picture of the current market situation for processed tomato products distributed in Russia. In detail, over the 2012-2016 period, sales volumes increased by 8.9%, with the exception of 2015 when – due to a depreciation of the Ruble – a drop in demand and sales was recorded, with a reduction in imports and an increase in prices. Nevertheless, over the period 2017-2021, growth has been estimated at between 3.3% and 4.5%, currently reaching more than 700,000 tonnes of traded goods (+21% compared to 2016).

According to the trade statistics supplied by Russian customs services, the country's trade deficit for tomato products has dropped sharply over the past seven years, while at the same time, the volumes of products processed within the country have considerably increased (see additional information at the end of this article). Russia's net expenditure for foreign purchases of tomato products has shrunk from over USD 175 million in 2013/2014 to less than USD 88 million during the 2020/2021 marketing year.

Supplies of tomato pastes have remained Russia's main item of expenditure in recent years, and therefore also represent the main driver of the decrease in the country's trade deficit. Results of the past marketing year confirm the emerging pattern reported by local operators during the TomatoNews conference in June 2019 (see additional information at the end of this article), which is being driven by the development of the Russian tomato paste production sector. With imported volumes of approximately 97,000 mT of finished products and a trade balance for the tomato paste category that is passive by approximately 86,000 mT, the 2020/2021 marketing year particularly confirmed the decrease in purchases of Chinese products (which has been very clear in recent years), while at the same time new trade flows from countries like Armenia and Kazakhstan have been developing, but the imports of products from Italy, the US, even Portugal and Spain, have been struggling to keep up with competition from local production.
The Russian trade deficit in the paste sector has been estimated at approximately USD 73 million in 2020/2021.

For several years, the Russian trade balance of the tomato sauces category has almost reached a point of equilibrium, between the relatively high volumes of imports from Italy, the Netherlands, Vietnam and South Korea, and foreign sales that are expanding towards the markets of Eurasia (Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, etc.), to only mention the main supply sources and outlets.
Over the past marketing year, the Russian industry has reported modestly positive results of 1500 mT of finished products, down on the previous result (1800 mT in 2019/2020), but clearly higher than the deficit of almost 9000 mT reported for the sector in 2013/2014. Indeed, Russian trade in the sauces category recorded an active balance of USD 1.6 million in 2020/2021, with an annual average of approximately USD 2.4 million over the past three years.

The country's trade in canned tomatoes (HS codes 200210) recorded a passive balance of close on 19,000 mT of finished products, for an amount slightly in excess of USD 16 million in 2020/2021. Most of the volumes and expenditure involved (85% to 90%) have been linked over the past three marketing years to products originating from Italy (see additional information at the end of this article). Russia has recently been exporting small quantities to Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine.

Some additional information
Recent evolutions in the volumes of tomatoes processed by the Russian industry.

Distribution and recent evolution of the Russian trade balance (in millions of US dollars) for the different categories of tomato products. The deficit in the tomato paste trade balance is rapidly shrinking; the tomato sauces and ketchup balance is very slightly active and the deficit of the canned tomatoes balance is slowly increasing.

Recent evolution in the Russian trade balance of canned tomatoes (in tonnes of finished products).

Source:, Trade Data Monitor,
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