The Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia (FAS) started inspections due to sugar shortage. Uneasy times were promised to unscrupulous sugar suppliers and sellers in Russia.
The FAS started inspections of market participants after mass complaints about sugar shortage and rise in price. They will affect not only businesses and retail chains, but also intermediary firms. “As practice shows, in a number of regions, the lack of sugar on store shelves is associated with panic buying, aggravated by unscrupulous organizations,” the agency said.
Also, the watchdog agency began “anti-cartel inspections” of the largest producers that are conducted “against the background of a sharp increase in prices.”
In recent days, granulated sugar has disappeared from some retail chains, while its price, according to the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat,) rose by 15% in March. There is no way to convince people to stop buying sugar in advance. Russians turn a deaf ear to all the assurances of the officials about the complete self-provision of the country with this strategic product and the absence of any reasons for its disappearance at best. They take them as a portent of even bigger problems and an excuse to increase the stocks at worst. The restrictions imposed by a number of large chains on the sale of sugar in one hand have also added fuel to the fire of feverish demand.
FAS reminded of the inadmissibility of unreasonable hike in prices and creation of artificial scarcity. The officials warned that in case of “detection of such facts the agency immediately takes response measures up to turnover fines” and, if necessary, sends information to the prosecutor's office. Earlier, Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov instructed his subordinates to check the legality of sugar pricing.
Meanwhile, the RusBrand holding (unites international companies such as Nestle, Unilever and Danone that manufacture products in Russia) sent the complaint to the antimonopoly authorities about certain sugar refineries that had started offering food producers to make purchases at prices in dollars. Calculations must be made in rubles, but at the exchange rate that is current on the date of shipment. The authors of the letter complained that the cost of sugar increased by 60-70%, and asked to take action.
“Some alarmists who stir up panic are the reason of this whole story. People started buying 10-15 kilograms each. I understand when there is a shortage of goods that are brought into our country, but sugar, buckwheat and flour are what we export. There are stocks. We should calm down and buy what we need for every day. There is food, especially the goods we produce. We should not create an artificial demand,” said the political scientist Alexei Lomov.
“There should be enough sugar by the start of a new season, even if it is a bit “tight.” The main thing is to ease social tension and rush demand as well as to prevent abuses in separate links of the whole chain. The situation will be completely leveled out by the fall, when the sugar of the new crop arrives on the market. Now it is important to increase as much as possible the area of sugar beets,” said agricultural expert the Marina Sidak.
“The Ministry of Industry and Trade assures that there are enough sugar stocks in Russia, and the shortage is created artificially. The task of the Federal Antimonopoly Service is to figure out whether the goods are really being held back by intermediaries until the huge demand leads to a multiple increase in its cost. To do this, the FAS will check the whole chain of sugar movement, from producer to end consumer. If the inspection finds that the price increase is unreasonable and the deficit was deliberately provoked, the violators may be fined a percentage of the proceeds. Such measures can seriously shake the financial position of companies,” said the Vladimir Postaniuk.