PM Putin Drops by Store and Raps Pork Prices

RUSSIA - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to a Perekryostok supermarket on Wednesday evening and won a promise from the chain's managing director to cut prices on pork.
calendar icon 25 June 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Prime Minister Putin's field trip to the dairy and meat aisles of the supermarket in the Krylatskoye district of western Moscow came amid a government drive to develop new trade legislation, specifically state regulation over retail pricing.

Perekryostok is a midprice supermarket chain that belongs to the X5 retail group, reports The Moscow

"How much is pork?" Prime Minister Putin asked astounded store attendants, Interfax reported.

Seeing a price tag of 335 rubles ($11) and consulting a pricing table that listed the item's purchase price as 160 rubles, Putin's calculation yielded an unhappy result.

"This is double the price. Is that normal?" the prime minister asked Yury Kobaladze, the managing director of X5.

"Is 120 per cent a high markup?" Mr Kobaladze asked.

"Very high," Putin said.

"It will be lowered tomorrow," Mr Kobaladze said.

Prime Minister Putin also visited the dairy aisle.

The unannounced excursion to the store came during a government discussion over legislation to introduce a single set of rules for wholesale, supply and retail chain companies as well as to introduce special rules for the sale of agricultural products.

The delegation also included First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, Wimm-Bill-Dann chairman David Yakobashvili, Miratorg agro-holding president Viktor Linnik and Irina Kanunnikova, director of the Russian Union of Independent Retail Chains. After the 10 to 15 minute visit, Putin said goodbye to the customers and the store managers and returned to the White House to continue the meeting.

Officials have struck a populist note in recent weeks over food pricing as 75 per cent of Russians view growing prices as the country's biggest problem, according to a Levada survey released Tuesday.

Inflation has hit 7.2 per cent since the beginning of the year, according to State Statistics Service figures posted on its web site Wednesday. The government predicts that inflation could still be less than 13 per cent for the year, Central Bank chief Sergei Ignatyev said Wednesday.

President Dmitry Medvedev sang the praises of Russian-made food in an interview broadcast on Channel One television on Sunday. He said his family "prefers Russian products," but also expressed alarm at the "middlemen, sometimes legal and sometimes criminal" who "seriously increase the price" of food.

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