In addition to agricultural products, Russian environmentally friendly phosphate-based fertilizers will be added to the country's brand segment of products offering superior environmental performance. This segment was created upon the instruction of Russian President Vladimir Putin following his annual state-of-the-federation speech in February 2019. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Gordeev approved a road map – developed by Russia's Agriculture Ministry – for the creation of a Russian brand for environmentally friendly agricultural products, raw materials and food products (the so-called Green Brand). According to its creators, the establishment of a national segment of environmentally friendly food products will provide competitive advantages for Russian producers in international markets, strengthen the country's position in removing trade barriers and make it possible, in future, to create a niche for green products that meet the applicable standards.
One of the key principles is traceability throughout the entire production chain: from the raw material base for the Russian mineral fertilizer industry for crop producers and from mineral feed additives for raising livestock, to the sale of food products to the end consumer. The standard for green products also provides for the possibility of integrating Russian specifications with global norms for green regulation, including the certification and labelling of Russian products based on the latest European and international standards.
PhosAgro, one of the world's largest producers of phosphate-based fertilizers and a leader in the total supply of all types of mineral fertilizers to Russian farmers has been an active participant in projects involved in the creation of the Green Brand segment.
Opening the plenary session at the first International Agroindustrial Forum, held within the framework of the exhibition, Prime Minister Medvedev noted that the creation of green brands is helping to meet the challenges facing the agricultural sector in the 21st century: namely, that consumers want to buy clean food.
"A new food culture is emerging in which the quality of products and the method of their production are no less important than the number and variety of products available. Therefore, we need to further improve the quality of agricultural products and foodstuffs, taking into account the new demands coming from agroecology and from the people themselves," Medvedev noted.
The Prime Minister stated that Russia was taking systematic steps in several areas in this regard.
"Green brands are being created; we are learning to combine intensive agricultural production, state-of-the-art technologies and environmental protection; and we are monitoring what we produce, what we sell and what is served on our tables," Medvedev stressed.
Deputy Prime Minister Gordeev said that more and more demands are being placed on farmers today in terms of the environmental safety of their products. He noted PhosAgro's "unique initiative" in developing the Green Brand concept and building a chain of traceability for the environmental cleanliness of products "from minerals to food".
"With this initiative, we can state that we are a country that produces nutritious food and that is solving problems related to environmental protection, including climate change," Gordeev stressed.
The Deputy Prime Minister added that it is important to harmonise the Green Brand with European countries and with other large agricultural producers.
"We can take the initiative here, and I'm sure the FAO will support us," said Gordeev in addressing Qu Dongyu, the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, who also took part in the plenary session.
Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev noted that "the main difference between organic products and the products that will be produced under the Green Brand is that the latter will be completely safe for humans and for the environment, but it will be possible to use a certain amount of premium, high-quality fertilizers in their production." He noted that the use of environmentally friendly fertilizers would make it possible to make more eco-friendly products available to people at any income level, unlike "exclusive" organic products.
"I hope that with our fertilizer producers, with the quality product that they produce, we will occupy a prominent place in exports markets with our green-branded products," the Minister stated.
Maxim Protasov, the head of Russia's national quality monitoring system, Roskachestvo, noted that work on formalising the principles of standardisation for every one of a series of green standards would be completed in the near future: "Russia only recently began establishing a milieu for organic and green products, but we are progressing rather quickly."
Concern for human health and the environment is increasing all over the world. Twenty-nine countries, including 23 in Europe, have already established voluntary limits on the use of mineral fertilizers containing toxic substances, such as cadmium, arsenic, lead and other heavy metals, which can accumulate in the human body through food consumption and can cause severe illnesses. In May of this year, the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament took a historic decision to limit the circulation of fertilizers with high levels of cadmium in the EU starting in 2022. In addition, voluntary labelling of fertilizers with low levels of harmful impurities is being introduced in Europe, which will be used to indicate the absence of dangerous levels of cadmium in fertilizers.
In June of this year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, in the International Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers, made clear recommendations for governments around the world to establish legislative standards to limit the sale and use of fertilizers if the levels of heavy metals and other impurities in them exceed standards.
"Beginning in 2022, phosphate-based fertilizers with cadmium levels exceeding 60 mg/kg will be illegal in Europe. But already today, France's Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, the largest European consumer of phosphate-based fertilizers, is sounding the alarm, recommending that the maximum level of cadmium in phosphates be reduced at least three-fold, as the risks posed by cadmium are so serious," noted PhosAgro CEO and President of the Russian Fertilizer Producers Association Andrey Guryev. "When European consumers become fully aware of the harmful effects of cadmium – and we are already seeing this happening – they will focus instead on environmentally friendly fertilizers and agricultural products grown with the use of such fertilizers. And from this point of view, Russia is second to none. Due to the unique natural features of the ore deposits on the Kola Peninsula, Russian phosphate-based fertilizers are the standard bearer for environmental friendliness due to the lack of concentrations of harmful cadmium impurities that are hazardous to human health and the environment. Russian producers can already start the transition to ecolabelling, and these new labels may serve as a prototype for the international labelling of environmentally friendly mineral fertilizers," concluded Mr Guryev.
In the first phase, ecolabelling will apply to Russian phosphate-based and complex mineral fertilizers that have been certified for compliance with the national standard for Environmentally Friendly Products – Mineral Fertilizers – Technical Specifications. Subsequent stages of certification will apply to other types of mineral fertilizers and ameliorates. In the future, there are plans to place a new label on food produced using only certified fertilizers that comply with national standards.
Mr Guryev also presented a new PhosAgro product concept to Prime Minister Medvedev, Deputy Prime Minister Gordeev and Agriculture Minister Patrushev. For the convenience of farmers, PhosAgro's 39 grades of mineral fertilizers are now grouped into five product categories depending on their form, type, composition and purpose. Fertilizer packaging has been given a new design that reflects the idea of environmental cleanliness and adherence to the values of Russia's Green Brand.
"In combination with ecolabelling, the new packaging will simplify the identification of environmentally friendly brands of PhosAgro mineral fertilizers in Russia and abroad and will help strengthen the image of the Russian mineral fertilizer industry as a pioneer in introducing highly responsible approaches to agriculture," said Mr Guryev.
"The principle of 'From green minerals to green food' is the key for Russian producers to access the primary global food markets. In combination with competitive pricing, Russian environmentally friendly agricultural products have an excellent opportunity to occupy a key place in global consumer markets. Russia has a unique chance to gain a competitive advantage and provide the planet's population with environmentally friendly and affordable consumer goods," emphasised Mr Guryev.
PhosAgro also presented the government delegation with a pilot version of the first online platform for ordering mineral fertilizers in the Russian industry. The expansion and full-scale launch of the platform are planned for 2020.
PhosAgro is one of the world's leading vertically integrated phosphate-based fertilizer producers in terms of production volumes of phosphate-based fertilizers and high-grade phosphate rock with a P2O5 content of 39% and higher. PhosAgro's pure phosphate-based fertilizers stand out for their high efficiency and their environmental safety for the health of people and soils.
The Company is the largest phosphate-based fertilizer producer in Europe (by total combined capacity for DAP/MAP/NP/NPK/NPS), the largest producer of high-grade phosphate rock with a P2O5 content of 39%, a top-three producer of MAP/DAP globally, one of the leading producers of feed phosphates (MCP) in Europe, and the only producer in Russia, and Russia's only producer of nepheline concentrate (according to the RAFP).
PhosAgro's main products include phosphate rock, 39 grades of fertilizers, feed phosphates, ammonia, and sodium tripolyphosphate, which are used by customers in 100 countries spanning all of the world's inhabited continents. The Company's priority markets outside of Russia and the CIS are Latin America, Europe and Asia.
PhosAgro's shares are traded on the Moscow Exchange, and Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) for shares trade on the London Stock Exchange (under the ticker PHOR). Since 1 June 2016, the Company's GDRs have been included in the MSCI Russia and MSCI Emerging Markets indexes.
More information about PhosAgro can be found on the website: www.phosagro.ru.
* By total combined capacity for the production of DAP/MAP/NP/NPK/NPS.
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