Unbearable sweetness of being – Gazeta Kommersant № 47 (7248) from 21.03.2022

Russia has faced a “sugar panic” – against the background of the military operation in Ukraine, citizens are actively buying this product. Despite soaring prices, there is almost no sugar left in stores in many regions. Local authorities blame “speculators and dealers” for this, assuring that there are no real reasons for the deficit. Experts confirm that this year Russia planned to produce as much sugar as in previous years, when there was no shortage. They warn that the rush of demand could turn into an imbalance in production: after all, citizens will consume the purchased sugar for many months. The psychologist explains that people buy “long-lasting products” for fear of unfavorable socio-economic situation. However, the response to these threats of modern society is strikingly archaic in form.

The “special operation” on the territory of Ukraine began on February 24, for the second week the Russians began to actively stock up on food, especially sugar. “Society is preparing for” social wintering “- similar to natural wintering, when many mammals form stocks for a long period of time – explains the behavior of Russians, Doctor of Psychology Alexander Asmolov. different times of blockades and defaults. And buckwheat, sugar and salt, as a rule, become favorite objects of deficit. These are “long-lasting products” that form a kind of gold reserve in preparation for famine, which may arise due to poor social conditions. Psychologically, this is a logical response to the economic blockade. “

The profile portal Sugar.ru states: “Since March 10, 2022, there is virtually no market supply of sugar on the Russian market.” As Kommersant found out, in a number of regions, the product itself is “virtually absent” from sale.

Yes, c Tatarstan in almost all stores, granulated sugar has disappeared from the shelves. According to the Minister of Economy of the region Midhat Shagiakhmetov, the population of the republic bought 842 tons of sugar last week, which is 90% more than usual demand. “Cases of empty shelves in commercial enterprises are mainly due to unreasonably high mass demand,” said the first deputy governor. Rostov region Victor Goncharov. IN Saratov region There is no sugar in stores for more than a week. The government of the region explains the situation by the high demand, up to the cases of buying 150 kg of sugar by one person in a regular store. Authorities have asked food chains to sell no more than 2kg of sugar in one hand. In addition, sugar began to be sold at agricultural fairs for 70 rubles. for 1 kg. According to Kommersant’s observations, even at this price, long queues are formed for the product.

Residents Stavropol Territory write on the page “VKontakte” of the governor Vladimir Vladimirov that in shops – including network – there is no sugar, “only price tags on 102-104 rubles. for 1 kg ». Mr. Vladimirov commented on the deficit quite emotionally: “I hope that all these speculators, when we fill the networks with sugar, cereals, lose their money and lose forever the ability to speculate on such a difficult moment in which we and our country are today.”

It should be noted that on February 21 – just three days before the start of the military operation – the Ministry of Agriculture and the FAS agreed with agricultural holdings on the maximum selling price for the sale of sugar at retail.

It was assumed that by July 31 it will be 47 rubles. for 1 kg. The price of sugar is much higher in stores now.

Yes, the consumer market service Irkutsk region reported that since February 23, sugar has risen in price by an average of 68.4 to 95.3 rubles. for 1 kg. Regional retail chains decided to limit the maximum markup on a number of goods, but it did not help much, the service admits: “As a result, such product positions diverge in two or three hours. Sugar is bought at 100-200 kg at a time. In one case, 600 kg was sold for five checks. ” According to Transbaikal Kraistata, from March 5 to 11, sugar c Transbaikalia rose by 20.5%. The Minister of Economic Development of the region Alexander Bardaleev said on March 16 that sugar prices in the region range from 70 to 120 rubles. per 1 kg (in remote areas). “All cases of unjustified overstatements are checked together with the FAS,” he warned. In all stores of federal retailers in the regions УрФО restrictions are imposed: as a rule, no more than 3 kg of sugar in one hand. And in the Lenta hypermarket in Tobolsk (Tyumen region) a new rule was introduced: when buying up to three packs of sugar, each of them costs 59 rubles, all the following – 87 rubles.

Residents of Samara also complain on social media about the lack of sugar in stores. Governor Samara region Dmitry Azarov insists: “There is simply no reason to worry about sugar. Demand has grown fivefold. What is the reason for this, what panic happened, who heated it up and who earned it, I hope we will understand someday. ” Among other things, he blamed rising sugar prices on convenience stores, whose owners allegedly buy the product in supermarkets and then resell it at inflated prices. The governor next door Orenburg region Denis Pasler admitted that granulated sugar and refined sugar are not available in most retail chains. Representatives of retailers and regional networks responded that they were “reviewing the logistics chains of delivery of goods to the regions” and “increasing the volume of sugar packaging.” Mr. Pasler asked to speed up the process, promising to “get involved in resolving issues at his own level.”

Perm The FAS last week received more than 200 complaints from citizens about rising prices – and most of them concerned sugar. The service explains that it is a matter of dissatisfaction with the cost of premium goods, and “ordinary” sugar at the lowest price, retail chains simply do not have time to deliver from warehouses and put on the shelves, “so quickly buy it.” “We recommend citizens to soberly assess their needs and not buy goods for the time being,” UFAS said, “this will allow stores to replenish the range and ensure the availability of products at minimum prices.”

IN Sverdlovsk and Tyumen areas Ugra and on Yamale residents post photos with empty shelves instead of sugar on social networks almost every day. Authorities say the population is buying the goods because of the “nervous feeling”. “For some reason, everyone wanted to buy sugar, and in the end it was gone. Those who did not buy sugar or rarely bought it, they all decided to buy five bags. And of course, no one is ever ready for this, – said the governor of Yamal, Dmitry Artyukhov. – A lot of sugar, there is no reason for this deficit. Of course, if everyone leaves (from the store.— Kommersant) with a cart of sugar, it will end. And the governor Orel region Andrei Klychkov reminded the citizens of an anecdote: “A young man with buckwheat and sugar is looking for a woman with salt and pasta.” He asked customers to think about the consequences of the panic: “Stores are already posting announcements that sugar and buckwheat are not accepted back.”

The retailers interviewed by Kommersant explain the problems by speculative buying and admit that the restriction of sales “in one hand” only fueled consumer panic.

Leading expert of the Institute of Agricultural Market Conditions Evgeny Ivanov points out that this season Russia planned to produce 5.7 million tons of sugar produced from beets harvested in 2021, another 150 thousand. tons are planned to be imported from Belarus. This is even more than last year, the expert notes – in 2021 the volume of sugar consumption in the country amounted to 5.6 million tons.

The Ministry of Agriculture says that 1.07 million hectares will be allocated for sugar beet this season (1 million hectares a year ago). According to the ministry, this will allow harvesting 41.3 million tons of beets, which is enough for the standard volume of sugar consumption in the country. The producers also claim that they have no problems with sugar. “We are ready to sell to regional wholesalers any volume they confirm that they supply to retail chains,” said Prodimex (a major sugar producer). However, none of the market participants interviewed by Kommersant was able to name the exact sugar reserves in the country. The last time Rosstat published such data was in early August 2021: then the stocks at sugar factories amounted to 512 thousand. tons.

“Russians will use the amount of sugar purchased now in large quantities for many months, which may lead to lower sales in the coming months,” warns Yevgeny Ivanov. In informal talks with Kommersant, producers are also expecting an imbalance if the hype of retail purchases does not stop in the near future. Authorities, meanwhile, have imposed a temporary ban on sugar exports, even within existing quotas. As several market participants told Kommersant, the port of Novorossiysk is currently unloading ships that were ready to send products to customers from other countries.

In itself, the imbalance between production and consumption in such a seasonal and demand-driven industry as the sugar industry is likely to be overcome, although the costs of non-standard logistics, producer losses and solving unexpected problems of industrial sugar consumers will further increase the average cost of sugar in 2022 , including retail, compared to the “excitement” scenario. Sugar occupies an insignificant part of Russia’s industrial production and GDP – even very unfavorable developments in this market are unlikely to affect the fate of the Russian economy.

The problem of “sugar panic” in another – the speed of archaization of everyday behavior of the population of the Russian Federation is phenomenally high.

For all the rationality of behavior not only of the elderly, often explaining it by the desire to save on “home-made” in the summer of 2022, in such consumer panic it is impossible not to see the willingness of the population to follow the social patterns of late and middle Soviet period – 1950-1970, for modern society and the economy is inadequate: even if we assume that “stockpiling” something is rational, in the conditions of the metropolis it is definitely not sugar.

Alexander Chernykh, Maria Starikova, Dmitry Butrin, Consumer Affairs Department, Kommersant Regional Corset

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