Russia’s ‘food superpower’ vision: opportunities and pitfalls

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) takes a stroll through a barley field with a farmer in the Stavropol region
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) takes a stroll through a barley field with a farmer in the Stavropol region. Russia’s grain output has steadily increased in recent years (source: dpa)
  • Russia’s agriculture sector is enjoying a boom
  • Counter-sanctions and climate conditions are fueling an increase in grain production
  • The domestic population and export infrastructure may not absorb the increase
  • Russia will likely only continue to export unprocessed grain

Russia’s quest for restored greatness is about to take a new and perhaps unexpected turn. After Moscow first nurtured a belief that Russia could become an “economic superpower” and then switched to visions of an “energy superpower,” the latest twist is for the country to become a “food superpower.”

In his December 2015 address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia could become “the largest world supplier of healthy, ecologically clean and high-quality food which the Western producers have long lost, especially given the fact that demand for such products in the world market is steadily growing.” Foreign pundits latched on, and the idea of Russia as a superpower in food began to proliferate.

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