Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Western Sanctions and Their Impact on Russia's Consumers

Under the rules-based international order, the West (particularly the United States) has used economic sanctions to punish nations that don't fall into line.  This has particularly been the case for Russia since 2014 and even more so since Russia's actions in Ukraine commenced in February 2022.  The Western media and Western politicians would have us believe that Russians are suffering mightily under the weight of their sanctions with stories like this from Canada's National Post trying to convince us that Russia's economy is returning to its dystopic Soviet Union past with shortages of most consumer goods and lineups for the few goods that were available:


Here's another one courtesy of the United Kingdoms' Guardian:

Thanks to Sergey Baklykov, a Russian video blogger who has a fascinating and regular series of videos that show what life is like for most Russian citizens, we have a glimpse into what life is really like in the era of sanctions.


Let's start with this familiar sight that has appeared in Western grocery stores over the past two years:


There have been significant shortages of key grocery items including certain foods, non-prescription pharmaceuticals and personal needs items, often blamed on the military actions that Russia is undertaking in Ukraine.  Walking through a grocery store in North America has turned into a crap shoot given that inventories are very low and the supply of basic needs items is intermittent at best.


Now, let's look at a recent video by Sergey Baklykov where he does a lengthly walkthrough at a Russian hypermarket owned by Lenta.  Lenta, a publicly traded company, is one of Russia's leading retailers as shown here:



Lenta's Q3 2022 financial reports show the following voting that total sales have increased by 7.2 percent on a year-over-year basis and 15.7 percent during 2022 including its purchase of Utkonos, an internet-based food and homeware retail chain based in Moscow:


As you can see, the sanctions have had very little impact on sales at one of Russia's largest grocery retailers.


Here is the video of the Lenta walk through from January 14, 2023:



While I certainly don't expect my readers to watch the entire video, if you skip through, you might find some things of interest.  Yes, despite the heavy sanctions environment, this particular Lenta location has what can only be described as amazing selection and inventory, both of which put many of our grocery retailers to shame (not to mention our politicians).  There are almost no empty shelves, shelves are being actively restocked and there seems to be both a very wide selection of items and a significant number of each item on shelves.


As well, and even more interesting, is the brands that are available given the current sanctions regime punishing Russians.  Let's list a few of them, keeping in mind that some of them are European brands that may not be familiar to my North American audience along with their parent companies:


1.) Laundry detergents - Tide (Proctor & Gamble, Persil (Unilever)


2.) Baby formula - this one I found interesting given the shortages of baby formula in Canada and the United States - Similac (Abbott Laboratories), Nan (Nestle), Nutrilon (Danone), Nutrilac 


3.) Huggies diapers


4.) Rich fruit juice (Coca-Cola HBC)


5.) Baked goods - Delisse (French company)


6.) Liquor - Martini & Rossi (Italian company)


7.) Beer - Miller (Miller Brewing Company), Heineken (Heineken N.V.)


8.) Snacks - Cheetos and Doritos (Frito-Lay - PepsiCo)


9.) Pet food - Pedigree and Whiskas (Mars Incorporated), Purina ONE (Cargill and Nestle)


10.) Chocolate - Milka (Mondelez International (U.S. company), Kinder (Ferrero)


We have a special section for the next company that made this announcement after the military actions began in Ukraine in February 2022:



So basically, Mars continued its business in Russia because it wanted to ensure that it continued to support its 6000 Associates located in the country.  Rest assured, it has nothing to do with profitability or preserving their share of the market since the company claims that profits from its Russian operations will be used for humanitarian causes.  Trust them.  With that in mind, if you skip through the video you'll see the following Mars products (in addition to the aforementioned pet foods:




Mars Bar








I hope that you now have a better idea of how we are being manipulated into believing that Russian consumers are suffering.  While I'm certain that many Russian grocery retailers are finding certain items difficult to access, from my personal experience grocery shopping in three of Russia's largest cities in 2019 during the 2014 sanctions regime, the shelves in all stores were full and the variety of goods available would have rivalled any store of comparable size in the West.

So, the next time that you enter a grocery store and are greeted with this:


....think of the poor Russians who are enduring the agony of both choice and inventory when they enter a grocery store.  It surely must feel like a return to the Soviet era:


It's great to be living in the age of no Western-based disinformation, isn't it?


  1. Generally I'm impressed with the work you do on this blog, but its been a while since I checked in. With that said, if I understand correctly, you're looking at a single well-stocked Russian supermarket - I'm guessing this is Moscow, more impressive if it's in another city - and extrapolating its success to all Russian supermarkets? There is an expression I'm sure you are familar with that describes this kind of illusion. Of course, if it's not an illusion, your point about western media is taken, except that in this post, if i understand correctly (not a given), you are exactly comparing the average american supermarket to what appears to be the nicest russian supermarket in existence, and suggesting this speaks to something you believe, and that's below the standard I would normally hold this blog to, which is why I'm commenting in the first place. Perhaps i need to be a more regular reader to notice the decline in your analysis.

  2. As I stated in this posting, I've been to a reasonable sampling of Russian grocery stores of various sizes in 2019 after the first round of sanctions and found them to be as well stocked as any western store. Certainly, I agree that this may be an outstanding example of a Russian grocery store but the same videographer has other videos showing the same thing in St. Petersburg and Moscow. My point in the posting was that we should not take anything at face value in the post-truth era - both sides lie equally as well even though we like to think that ours is the only versions of truth.

    Thanks for your comments!