Sergey Mikhailov, Cherkizovo Group’s CEO, has chaired the first meeting of the Committee on Food Policy, a new body of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP). The meeting was attended by Alexander Shokhin, RSPP President, Oksana Luth, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Viktor Evtukhov, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, leaders of Russia’s largest companies from the agricultural sector and allied industries, and delegates of major industry associations.
Moscow hosted the first meeting of RSPP’s Committee on Food Policy. In his welcome speech, RSPP President Alexander Shokhin stressed the need for the Committee to address a variety of systemic issues that have an impact on the food value chain all the way from farm to fork. He said he believed it important to strike the right balance between the interests of key agricultural sectors and companies from supporting industries. “The Committee’s mission is to facilitate a constructive dialog with the relevant bodies of RSPP to help Russian businesses develop comprehensive solutions paving the way for an efficient food policy, which has become an increasingly prominent issue lately,” said Alexander Shokhin.
Sergey Mikhailov, Chairman of the Committee and Cherkizovo Group’s CEO, noted during the meeting that the Committee would focus on solutions for implementing the national food safety doctrine, providing people with affordable high-quality food products, setting the stage for progressive growth in farming, and strengthening Russia’s position in global agricultural markets. “We will soon work closely on such important topics as supporting the investment appeal of the agricultural sector, increasing the output of socially significant products, and finding ways to maintain stability and visibility in the food market,” said Sergey Mikhailov.
The Committee also discussed key factors behind the current situation in the Russian consumer market. Among other things, members pointed out the impact of rapidly growing global prices on key food products, adding that the government’s efforts to regulate grain and oilseed exports, provision of comprehensive state support and a productive dialog with market players were sufficient to bring the situation with key socially significant product categories under control.
In discussing ways to maintain and enhance consumer demand for food products, speakers also praised the government’s initiatives to support low-income citizens. They noted that, in the current situation, it would make sense to adopt additional measures to provide predictable long-term aid to socially vulnerable groups.
Another focus of the meeting was the labor force needs of agricultural industries. Due to the COVID — 19 pandemic, many companies have to deal with an outflow of migrant workers and face difficulties replacing them, which has had an immediate negative effect on production volumes. Meeting participants put forward a number of clear-cut proposals on how to address labor shortages in the agricultural sector. In particular, they suggested recruiting migrants from Uzbekistan under a pilot project of the Russian Ministry of Construction and Ministry of Agriculture. On top of that, the program of comprehensive rural development is expected in the mid-term to increase the number of Russian citizens employed in farming.
During the discussion, participants also stressed the significance of the Committee giving due consideration to environmental protection and other ESG-related issues. One of its upcoming meetings is expected to focus closely on relevant challenges, as the ESG agenda has been increasingly important for the agricultural sector.
RSPP’s Committee on Food Policy was established in summer 2021. It brings together shareholders and leaders of Russia’s agricultural majors (Miratorg, Rusagro, Resource Group, United Grain Company, Demetra Holding, EFKO Group, Sodruzhestvo Management Company, Ostankino Group, etc.), nationwide retail chains (X5 Group, Magnit), representatives of some of the largest fishing, agrochemical, agricultural engineering, food service and banking players, and leading unions and associations from the farming and retail sectors.