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Russian Regulator Probes Supermarkets Amid Egg Price Surge

 |  April 7, 2024

In a statement released on Tuesday, the FAS revealed its intention to probe whether retail chains engaged in anti-competitive agreements, which could have artificially inflated the prices of essential goods, particularly chicken eggs. The inspections are part of a broader effort to assess the market dynamics driving the recent surge in egg prices, which have outpaced inflation and surged by up to 60% last year.

Among the major retail players affected by the inspections are Auchan, the French-owned supermarket giant, along with stores operated by the X5 group, Magnit, and Lenta. These chains represent significant players in Russia’s retail sector, and their involvement underscores the gravity of the situation.

The crackdown on supermarket chains follows earlier actions taken by the FAS in December, when price-fixing charges were levied against four Russian egg producers. The move came after President Vladimir Putin issued a rare public apology for the steep increase in egg prices, acknowledging the strain it placed on consumers.

Read more: Australia: Watchdog probes alleged egg price-fixing, say sources

The surge in egg prices has been attributed to a confluence of factors, including rising labor and transportation costs, as well as increases in the price of chicken feed and imported antibiotics. These factors have collectively exacerbated the challenge of ensuring affordable access to essential food items for Russian consumers.

Despite the grim outlook, there have been indications of a potential reversal in the trend. In late February, Maxim Shaskolsky, the head of FAS, stated that the price of eggs was “trending downward,” suggesting some relief for consumers in the near future.