Staunton, January 6 – Russian commentator Aleksandr Nemets was much criticized for an article last month that suggested Russians were consuming 10 to 15 percent fewer calories than they had only four years ago, a figure that directly challenged official Rosstat claims to the contrary (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A3A4FB908A5D).
Now, he has assembled new data from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (dcenter.hse.ru/data/2017/12/05/1161509137/indbas_17-10.pdf) which not only confirm his earlier statements but suggest that the situation with regard to food consumption and poverty is even worse than he had indicated (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A4F720228C8E).
The HSE data show that Russian food purchases after rising on an index where the figure in 2000 was 100 to 111.5 in 2013 have now fallen to 97, a drop right in the middle of Nemets’ own calculations in the earlier article. But other figures offered by HSE indicate that the situation is more dire than that general number.
They show that consumption of food products in Russia between 2013 and 2017 fell by 14 to 15 percent, and “as usual in such circumstances,” Russians cut back in the first instance “meat, cheese and other quality products with a high protein content,” replacing them with low calorie products like bread, potatoes, and illegal alcohol.
On the basis of those figures, Nemets says, one can calculate that “the average calorie level consumed by the population of the Russian Federation fell by at least 15 percent from about 3100 calories in 2013 to 2700 in 2017 and consumption of protein fell by 20 percent or more from about 100 grams to 80.”
Exacerbating this situation, he continues, has been a level of inflation that is two to three times more than the level officials claim as serious research has now documented. He cites the work of the Moscow Center for Economic and Political Reforms which says that prices for the basic market basket of goods have risen 9.5 percent in the last year (1prime.ru/News/20171227/828301381.html).
What this reflects, Nemets continues, is the increasing impoverishment of the population. Instead of the 14-15 percent of Russians officials say live in poverty, at least 30 to 35 percent do; and some observers suggest that the figure is far higher than that, with almost everyone affected (youtube.com/watch?v=J3YE5lAuUeg&feature=youtu.be).
Such declines in caloric and protein consumption combined with rising poverty not only hurt society today, he points out, but have serious demographic consequences in the future. Among these consequences are fewer potential parents being willing to have children and those who do having lower birthweight and less health offspring.