Russian ice cream market growing and becoming more local

This year, Russians are expected to eat 448,000 tonnes of ice cream setting a decade-long record. The majority of this ice cream is produced locally, and this share is likely to grow further, as the ruble’s devaluation makes imported sweets more expensive.

Annual ice cream consumption in Russia is meant to hit a new record of 3,1kg per person, says bneIntelliNews. In Soviet times, Plombir ice cream cups were the only consumer luxury that remained widely available. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the market has been flooded with imported ice cream. The world’s largest chain of ice cream speciality shops, Baskin Robbins, was among the first foreign investors into the newly independent Russia.

Ice cream consumption continues to grow, reads data provided by the Centre for Industry Assessment of the Russian Agricultural Bank. By the end of 2021, the centre expects the volume of ice cream consumption in Russia to increase by 1% to 448,000 tonnes, which is 3,1kg per capita. “The jump in consumption would be a continuation of the gradual increase in demand over the past 10 years. Given the cold Russian climate and the seasonal aspect of ice cream consumption, a further increase in export volumes may become a growth point for Russian producers,” said the centre. Domestic ice cream sales were hurt by the lockdown last spring when kiosks and cafes were forced to close. However, Russian consumers quickly switched to ordering online or buying ice cream in stores.

Russia’s ice cream production showed even more significant growth last year. The country produced 451,000 tonnes of ice cream in 2020, up 8% year on year. This year, the figure is meant to increase further and total 463,000 tonnes. As for ice cream exports, they have jumped eightfold over the last decade from 3,000 tonnes in 2010 to 26,000 tonnes in 2020. By the end of 2021, supplies abroad are expected to reach 30,000 tonnes.

Most of these exports are sold within the Commonwealth of Independent States. Thus, Russian manufacturers have turned to Soviet recipes, as they have mass appeal and enjoy steady demand from the former Soviet republics. The biggest importer of Russian ice cream is Kazakhstan, which boosted the volume of imports by 27% to 11,200 tonnes in 2020. In monetary terms, however, the growth amounted to a modest 2%. Exports to the US, which is also a big buyer of Russian-made ice cream due to a large Russian diaspora, tripled last year to 3,800 tonnes worth $9,2 million. Meanwhile, ice cream imports to Russia are expected to fall by 20% to 15,000 tonnes this year compared to 19,000 tonnes in 2020, as last year’s devaluation of the ruble made imports more expensive.

By Anna Litvina