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4 September

West must meet Russia demands before grain deal restored, Putin says

Credit: Aynur Mammadov /

The deal allowing Ukraine to safely ship grain through the Black Sea will not be resumed until the West meets Moscow’s demands on Russia’s own agri exports, Vladimir Putin said. 

Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July, claiming its own exports of food and fertiliser were being hampered by sanctions. 

After meeting Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 4 September, Putin told reporters Russia could restore the deal if restrictions on the shipments of its goods were removed. 

“We will be ready to consider the possibility of reviving the grain deal and I told Mr President [Erdoğan] about this again today,” Putin said, according to media reports.  

“We will do this as soon as all the agreements on lifting restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products are fully implemented.”

31 August

France agrees deal on food prices with manufacturers, retailers

France has reached a deal on food prices – but the country’s finance minister named major suppliers he says could “do much more”. The deal will see prices frozen or cut on 5,000 products, including many food items. However, Finance Minister Le Maire said some manufacturers are not doing enough to help the fight against inflation, pointing to Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever as among companies he claims are not toeing the line. 

After two days of talks with representatives from 75 big retailers and producers, Le Maire said he had received pledges on thousands of everyday products. 

“It was necessary to conclude a global agreement between manufacturers and distributors to break this spiral of food inflation, which penalises all our compatriots,” he added. 

Le Maire said manufacturers had also agreed to bring forward annual price negotiations – initially planned for next year – to September. The talks will last until mid-October with a view to having price cuts from January. 

29 August

UK again delays full post-Brexit import checks on EU food

The UK has again decided to delay the full implementation of checks on food products entering the country from the EU. 

Since the UK left the EU, London has pushed back introducing the full set of controls it plans for goods entering from the bloc. 

The full customs checks on imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and on high-risk food (and feed) of non-animal origin were due to be introduced in October. However, the UK said the controls would be delayed by another three months. 

While goods from the UK entering the EU already face checks and paperwork demands, London has repeatedly delayed introducing similar controls. 

Previous delays have been blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine but more recently food industry bodies have warned border checks will worsen food inflation in the UK. 

25 August

Hostess Brands shares soar on report of takeover interest

Hostess Brands has reportedly appointed advisers to mull takeover interest from a clutch of major packaged food companies. 

According to Reuters, the US-based maker of the Twinkies brand has hired Morgan Stanley to weigh up interest from companies including PepsiCo and Mondelez International. 

The news agency also named Hershey and General Mills as among the businesses that have expressed interest in Hostess. 

Just Food approached PepsiCo, Mondelez, Hershey, General Mills – and Hostess – for comment. 

At the time of writing, only Hershey had responded. “It’s our policy not to comment on M&A speculation,” a spokesperson said. 

Shares in Hostess leapt more than 25% in the aftermath of the report. 

In 2022, Hostess generated net revenue of $1.36bn, up 18.9% on a year earlier. The company’s operating income grew 9.7% year on year to $220.3m. Net income was up 37.6% at $164.2m.

26 July

We still own seized Russia business, insists Danone

Danone today (26 July) asserted its legal ownership over the assets seized by Russia a fortnight ago. 

On 16 July, the Kremlin said it had placed Danone Russia under the “temporary management” of government property agency Rosimushchestvo. It was subsequently reported Moscow had appointed Yakub Zakriev, a Chechen Minister for Agriculture, to lead Danone’s Russian subsidiary. 

In a statement alongside the publication of Danone’s half-year results, the French giant addressed the seizure of the assets, which it underlined centre on its Essential Dairy and Plant-Based (EDP) division. 

“On July 18, 2023, the Russian authorities indicated that the board of directors and CEO of Danone Russia (EDP) had been changed. These changes took place without the knowledge of, or approval by, Danone. While Danone no longer retains control of the management of its EDP operations in Russia, it remains their legal owner,” the company said. 

The group said it would “deconsolidate” the assets, sparking a cash impairment of around €200m ($214.7m).