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March 9, 2022updated 10 Mar 2022 11:30pm

McCain Foods weighing up Russia expansion project

The Canada-based food group has been building a new factory south of Moscow.

By Dean Best

McCain Foods, the Canada-based manufacturer, is mulling the future of a capital project to expand in Russia.

The privately-owned business, which does not have a production presence in Russia, has been building a factory in the Tula region around 75 miles south of Moscow.

McCain Foods says it stopped construction on 24 February, the day President Putin gave the order for Russian forces to move to enter Ukraine.

A spokesperson has told Just Food the company is “re-evaluating the future of the project”, adding: “A final decision will be taken in the coming days.”

McCain sells products in Russia to foodservice, QSR and retail customers, shipping the items from plants in Europe.

Just Food asked McCain Foods to comment on its wider business in Russia but the spokesperson declined to comment.

A raft of food manufacturers have either pulled out of Russia or suspended certain operations as the conflict in Ukraine reaches a fourteenth day.

Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever and Danone have all announced they will suspend their investment in Russia but maintain the manufacturing and sale of certain food products.

Arla Foods, one of the world’s largest dairy companies, is to halt its operations in Russia. The Denmark-based co-operative said on Monday it had “initiated preparations to suspend its business in Russia”.

Finland’s Fazer Group has exited the Russian market after initially taking a first step in suspending exports of confectionery, grain and bakery products last week, when Finnish counterpart Raisio took the same decision.

Another Finnish company, food and beverage supplier Paulig, announced plans to “withdraw” from Russia, where it has a coffee roastery and employs around 200 staff.

Yesterday, Andrey Turchak, Secretary of the General Council of United Russia, the largest political party in the country, proposed nationalising the factories of overseas companies that have decided to leave the country in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement posted on the United Russia website, which mentioned Valio, Fazer and Paulig by name, Turchak said: “United Russia proposes nationalising the production of those companies that announce their exit and the closure of production in Russia during the special operation in Ukraine.

“This is an extreme measure but we will not tolerate stabs in the back, and we will protect our people. This is a real war, and not against Russia as a whole, but against citizens. We will not look at it indifferently. We will take tough retaliatory measures, acting in accordance with the laws of war.”

For more on Just Food’s coverage on how the conflict is affecting the food industry, please visit our dedicated microsite.

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