Russia reaches out for food, grocery supplies from India

With its departmental stores running out of groceries, sanctions-hit Russia has reached out to Indian retailers and agri-exporters for urgent supplies, more so as the EU has stopped supplies for the second month in a row. The list includes orange marmalade, mango jam, pasta, oats flakes, pancake mix, spaghetti, basmati rice, coffee, tea, cornflakes, rum, ketchup and prawns.

India and Russia are working out an alternative payments mechanism using the rupee and ruble after the West led by the US banned some Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system.

Russia has also urged Indian agri and processed food manufacturers and retail associations to set up a joint India-Russia agri industrial park in “Lotos”, the special economic zone in the Astrakhan, southern Russia, for producing groceries, spices and other foods to minimize the country’s dependence on food and agri imports.

The Russian embassy in New Delhi shared a list of supply requirements with the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO). The apex export promotion body is organizing a buyer-seller meet last week to connect Russian firms with Indian sellers.

According to news reports, Russian departmental stores have run out of basics, including sugar, pasta and rice. A trade association in Russia has also reached out to the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), seeking supplies of food items followed by footwear, artificial jewellery and ready-made garments.

“Russians are reaching out for supply of food and groceries as they were earlier supplied by the EU, the UK and the US. They have sent an elaborate list of items that they require immediately. We have already circulated the list to traders across India,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, CAIT. According to reports, the payment mechanism alternative to SWIFT has been finalized between Russia’s state-owned development bank VEB and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for transactions in local currency. As for shipping, only one port in Georgia is functional for supplies to Russia.

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