Natalia Shagaida, Head of the Agrarian Department at the Gaidar Institute, shared her view in a comment to Agroinvestor on installing free food shelves in stores for socially vulnerable people.

Deputies of the party A Just Russia - For Truth have submitted a bill to the State Duma for consideration to install special shelves in stores for expiring foods. These foods will be intended for pensioners and socially vulnerable people, who can document their status. In the explanatory note to the bill, the authors point to the problem of inefficient use of food in Russia: 17 tons of food worth Rb1.6 trillion is wasted in Russia every year. At the same time, by the end of 2022, Rosstat records 14.3 mn socially vulnerable Russians.

Natalia Shagaida said that retail chains install expiring food shelves even now. For example, there are 3 shelves in Achan, two for meat with different discounts and one for milk and dairy products. “Retailers are interested in getting at least something out of foods that have expired. Otherwise, they have to destroy them, which will result in costs rather than give them away. The reason for not distributing them is taxation. When distributing, retailers now suffer direct losses due to VAT taxation. Now changes to the Tax Code are being discussed, which would allow them to distribute foods without losses. However, foods cannot be distributed in the store, it should be done through charity funds, where people in need can apply,” the expert told Agroinvestor.

She believes that installing free shelves in the store is not worth it because there might be a crush. “Apparently, the initiators of such ideas have not been watching TV for a long time. Otherwise, they would have seen what happens when companies at some events decided to give away foods for free,” Shagaida explained her point of view.