Russia to exempt eggs from import duties as prices climb, stocks dwindle By Reuters

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MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russian imports of 1.2 billion eggs will be exempt from duty for the first six months of 2024, the economy ministry said on Wednesday, to help rein in prices as some shops run low on supplies.

Egg prices have risen more than 40% so far this year and empty egg shelves have been seen in some Moscow supermarkets in the past week. Eggs remain widely available online and not all shops have been affected.

“The decision will help in the short term to balance the domestic market of eggs and ensure supply growth,” the ministry said. The measure will apply from Jan. 1 to June 30.

It said imports could be sourced from “friendly countries”, meaning those that have not imposed sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. The agriculture ministry said imported supplies would help stabilise prices.

Russia has been grappling with stubbornly high inflation after a double-digit rise in 2022. Prices for eggs have risen 42.4% since the start of the year, according to data from federal statistics service Rosstat.

In the southern city of Belgorod, shoppers queued for eggs at a market where 10 eggs were available for 65 roubles ($0.72) as opposed to the supermarket price of more than 150 roubles ($1.67), a Reuters reporter said.

Natalia Chernovolova, a resident of Valuyki in the Belgorod region, said prices above around 150 roubles were too much for her.

“I have to look for other options, cheaper ones,” she said. “Because we need eggs not just for New Year, for festive salads, but for our daily diet.”

Some Belgorod residents have been hoarding eggs and selling them on at higher prices, the deputy regional governor Yulia Shcherdina said, seeking to reassure people that supplies are sufficient.

“There is no shortage of supply,” Shcherdina wrote on Telegram earlier this week. “There is no need to create an artificial frenzy.”

Egg production fell 1.3% year-on-year in October, said Andrei Sizov of the Sovecon agriculture consultancy. Some consumers switching from chicken to eggs as a source of protein in the face of price rises may have compounded the fall in supplies, he said.

Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office last week said it had met various federal bodies to discuss egg prices and pledged that unjustified price increases would be curbed.

($1 = 89.9050 roubles)

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