NFU Scotland is to step up monitoring of food on supermarket shelves amid fears that Russia’s export ban on EU agricultural goods may have an effect on demand for Scottish produce.
The Russian ban, announced earlier this month, is not expected to cause significant disruption, but NFUS is concerned about the potential for indirect impact because EU products typically exported to Russia will have to find new markets.
The union’s pigs committee, in particular, is worried about disruption to traditional pork and bacon export routes. And dairy produce is thought to be exposed to the export ban due to displaced products, particularly cheese.
The union already examines shelf space in Scottish supermarket stores to check the support given by retailers to Scottish and British beef, pork, chicken and lamb. That monitoring will now be extended to other vulnerable produce.
NFUS food chains relationship manager Kylie Barclay said that while the EU was in the process of putting measures in place to support the sector, it was important to monitor any ramifications for growers in Scotland.
“Given that one of the EU’s largest exports to Russia is fruit and vegetables, and the perishable nature of these products, the ban is already being felt in some countries,” she said.
“For that reason, key fruit and vegetables for Scotland – such as raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, carrots and onions – have been brought into our weekly ScotchWatch monitoring scheme so that we can quickly get a handle on any supply or price issues.”
Some member states are already reporting significant price falls in some commodities. The European Commission has made €125m available for the fruit and vegetable sector for the period up to the end of November and this funding is likely to be focused on measures to withdraw products from the market.
An extraordinary Agriculture Council will be held in Brussels on 5 September where EU farm ministers will discuss the crisis.
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