Russia’s ban on food imports from the U.S. and E.U. has created problems for the country’s restaurants and gourmets, who are theoretically being kept away from top-quality imported ingredients like Italian Parmigiano cheese. But it turns out those ingredients are getting in anyway, thanks to some merchants in Belarus passing off European products as their own.
According to NPR, Belarus is not a target of Russia’s import ban, and it is not banning foreign foods itself. That means merchants in Belarus have been free to buy up desirable European foods like Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano and resell them in Russia. Merchants have reportedly just been slapping “Made in Belarus” stickers on the cheese, right over the original Italian packaging. It seems unlikely that anybody is actually fooled by the trick, but the cheese is still getting into Russia. According to NPR it is jokingly being referred to as “Parmigiano-Belarussiano.”
Thanks to a customs agreement with Russia, products from Belarus can cross the border without being inspected, so the foreign food products go right on through. Merchants from Belarus, a landlocked country, are even selling “made in Belarus” salmon to Russian sushi restaurants that would normally be getting their salmon from Norway.