Russian authorities suspend sprat fish sales following Latvian Euro entry
Some 24,000 cans of Latvian sprats have been taken off the shelves in Russian supermarkets after Rospotrebnadzor, the Russian food safety watchdog, claimed to have discovered high levels of benzopyrene, a known carcinogen, in several imported canned fish products.
“We are completely baffled,” Oskars Grosmanis, CEO of Kolumbija Ltd, which is one of the Latvian companies affected by the ban, told Nozare.lv.
“We have received no official information but, judging from the data posted on the website, the maximum level has been exceeded 35 times, which is totally absurd. In such a case, it should have been a box of coals, not a canned fish.”
The ban is perhaps the first sign of a backlash by Russian authorities against Latvia’s Euro entry, which was hailed as success for EU integration against expanding Russian interests in the Baltic region.
“Russia isn’t going to change. We know our neighbour,” Latvian Finance Minister Andris Vilks told the Financial Times, indicating that he saw membership of European institutions as a counterweight to Russia’s influence.
“There was before, and there will be, a lot of unpredictable conditions. It is very important for the [Baltic] countries to stick together, and with the EU.”
Recent polling has shown little enthusiasm among Latvians for Euro adoption, but markets have responded positively. Demand exceeded supply four times at Latvia’s first auction of Euro-denominated bonds. Rating agencies improved their assessments of Latvia’s economy, with Standard & Poor’s improving its outlook to positive and Fitch increasing its rating from BBB to BBB+ with a stable outlook.
Photo courtesy of Jewgienij Bal.