posted at 22:50
Author Name: Marina Lapenkova
Buckwheat panic grips Russians as economic sanctions bite
While Russians grumble about the rising price of chicken, cheese or sausage, it was only when rumours spread of buckwheat supplies running low that shoppers dashed out to fill their trolleys. Buckwheat "Is not just a food, it is a national idea," Russia's leading business daily, Vedomosti, wrote recently in an editorial. "In Moscow, people see a television news report about a buckwheat crisis in Penza", a city 600 kilometres away, and "In just four days they buy up buckwheat stocks that would normally be enough for two months," the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily wrote. Even though buckwheat is homegrown and so little affected by sanctions or the falling ruble, the price of a packet of buckwheat rose from around 30 rubles to 50 rubles in Moscow and doubled in some regions. While initially there was no problem with supplies, "Excessive demand sparked" the buckwheat crisis, said Alexey Alexeyenko, a senior official at Russia's food safety agency, Rosselkhoznadzor. Russian media called the phenomenon "Hysteria" or even "Buckwheat psychosis." A survey conducted in late November by the Levada Center pollster found that almost a third of Russians had stocked up on buckwheat in recent weeks. Buckwheat stockpiling is more a symbol of troubled times, Rylko said, calling it "a sacred food for Russians that disappears at the onset of any signs of crisis."

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