A Russian decision to ban most Western food imports, taken in anger six years ago, is helping Moscow navigate the coronavirus crisis, giving it enough homegrown stocks to withstand panic buying and greater leeway on its agricultural export policy.
Russia has so far reported 4,149 cases of the virus and 34 deaths, far fewer than some major western European countries.
Moscow imposed a ban on Western cheese, vegetables and dozens of other products in 2014 in retaliation against European Union and U.S. sanctions imposed on it for annexing Ukraine's Crimea.
The Russian counter-sanctions, coupled with a weaker rouble, have helped the domestic food sector flourish, spurring the creation of new food products and producers.
Russia cut its food imports to $29.8 billion in 2018, down from $43.3 billion in 2013, according to the agriculture ministry. That repositioning is now coming into its own.
Haunted by memories of appalling food shortages in the 1990s, some Russians went on a panic-buying spree earlier this month, snapping up staples such as buckwheat.
The strength and depth of the domestic food sector meant Moscow's shelves were fully restocked within a week.
"The accumulated safety margin in the industry allows us to fully ensure the country's food security," the Agriculture Ministry told Reuters. "Even in conditions of higher demand, the country's domestic needs for basic foodstuffs are fully met by existing production."
Moscow's ban on Western food imports boosted domestic production of vegetables, dairy products and apples, said Andrei Sizov, of the SovEcon agriculture consultancy.
Russia is self-sufficient in grain, sugar, poultry, pork, vegetable oil and fish, and wealthy businessmen have invested heavily in sprawling greenhouse complexes to grow fruit and vegetables in recent years.
Moscow still relies on some imports and needs to import citrus fruit, coffee and some other products for which it does not have the right climate. But the range and volume of what is produces is much bigger than in 2014.
WORLD'S BIGGEST WHEAT EXPORTER
Russia's drive for food independence has also seen it become the world's largest wheat exporter.
As a result, it is not under pressure to build up grain stockpiles, something some large importers, such as Egypt, are considering.
Instead, Russia on Thursday said it would sell up to 83% of grain from its state stockpile into the domestic market to increase supply for flour millers and bakers as coronavirus spreads.
Its strength as a grain producer gave it the leeway to make that decision and also gives it room for manoeuvre when it comes to deciding on export curbs, something it has been forced to resort to in the past.
In 2010, Russia suspended grain exports altogether after a drought hit its harvest.
This time round, it has so far only agreed limiting grain exports in April-June at 7 million tonnes. That is broadly in line with what the global market expected from Russia for that period anyway. It also imposed curbs on sunflower seeds and buckwheat.
But though Russia is in a better spot in terms of food supply, it is still among only a small number of exporting countries planning export restrictions, said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager with INTL FCStone.
"When free markets are allowed, it pushes self evolution which is better for the long term," said Ammermann, adding that the EU and U.S. left their market to operate freely despite coronavirus fears.
At this stage, tough restrictions on Russian agriculture exports are unlikely however because domestic rouble grain prices, the main headache for officials, are already rising at a slower pace than two weeks ago, said SovEcon's Sizov.
If food inflation jumps significantly, officials may become more concerned though.
Consumer inflation was pushed up by Russians rushing to buy buckwheat two weeks ago and by a weakening rouble. But it has since slowed and was at 0.2% on March 24-30.
"I do not think there is going to be a complete suspension of (grain) exports," said Sizov.