Interfax: Muscovites say food embargo doesn’t hamper food quality or assortment – poll

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Interfax – October 7, 2014) Food quality and assortments have not changed amid Russia’s retaliatory “food embargo” but prices have gone up, Muscovites told the Public Opinion Foundation.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of 1,000 Muscovites polled over the phone on September 28 approved of the ban on food imports from a number of Western countries, 21 percent criticized that step and 13 percent were undecided.

Most respondents (79 percent) believe it is possible to substitute the banned goods with domestic products and imports from third countries, 13 percent argue it will be impossible to compensate for the deficit of imported food, and 8 percent failed to answer the question.

In the opinion of 68 percent of Muscovites, food assortment in city stores has not changed after the sanctions were imposed. Almost a quarter (23 percent) said the assortment had become smaller, 2 percent claimed the opposite trend and 7 percent could not assess the situation.

Twenty-three percent of Muscovites admitted they had noticed the disappearance of customary foods, 74 percent said the food they were regularly buying was still available and 2 percent were undecided.

Most respondents (72 percent) said food prices had climbed in the capital city, 19 percent did not notice a change in pricing policy, and 1 percent said prices had dropped. Eight percent were undecided.

Forty-five percent of the Muscovites who argued a price hike explained it with the ban on imports on certain foods, 23 percent are confident that price dynamics are unrelated to the restriction on imports, and 13 percent could not tell.

In the opinion of 83 percent of Muscovites, food quality is invariable, only 8 percent claimed deterioration, 4 percent said quality had improved and 4 percent abstained from answering the question.

Seventy-two percent of the respondents said they used to buy foods, which are now barred by Russia. Sixty-one percent said the banned foods amounted to an insignificant part of their shopping, 11 percent bought many banned foods, 16 percent did not buy any of them, and 13 percent were undecided.

Yet, a majority of Muscovites (91 percent) did not have to change their eating habits, only 7 percent had adjusted their diets, for instance, 3 percent stopped buying some foods because they were too expensive, 2 percent could not find their customary food in stores and 2 percent had to substitute imported foods with domestic ones.

On August 7, Russia imposed a year-long embargo on imports of agricultural products, raw materials and food from countries, which had joined sanctions against Moscow. The ban applies to beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway. The Russian Foreign Ministry explained the ban with sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States on a number of Russian banks lending money to Russian farmers.