ROME Aug 8 Russia has sent entire shipments of
Grana Padano cheese back to Italy and cancelled exports of pears
from Modena under a food import ban which could cost Italy at
least 200 million euros, an agriculture group said on Friday.
Russia's ban on imports of specific foods from countries
that have imposed sanctions over the Ukraine crisis puts at risk
exports which were worth about 228 million euros ($306 million)
in 2013, the Coldiretti group said.
"We are facing a worrying escalation of the conflict, with a
trade war that confirms that food is strategic above all in
times of recession," Coldiretti president Roberto Moncalvo said
in a statement.
On Thursday, Moscow announced a one-year proscription on
imports of meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the
United States, European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway.
Italy, home of Parmesan cheese and Prosecco wine, is proud
of its rich culture of cooking, eating and drinking. Coldiretti
says food and drink exports made 34 billion euros in 2013, as
the wider Italian economy struggled to emerge from a recession
to which it returned in the second quarter of this year.
Italian exports of food and drink to Russia were worth a
record 706 million euros in 2013, Coldiretti said, and rose a
further one percent in the first four months of 2014 despite
conflict in the ex-Soviet region.
The ban does not affect alcohol, which should protect the
wine and sparkling wine which made up 16 percent of Italy's food
and drink imports to Russia last year, Coldiretti said.
In 2013, Russia bought Italian fruit and vegetables worth 72
million euros, meat worth 61 million euros, dairy products worth
72 million euros and pasta worth 50 million euros, Coldiretti
said, adding that the possibility of surplus foreign food
arriving in Italy could translate into further losses for
(1 US dollar = 0.7462 euro)
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)