CEO warns of Europe's Russian fertilizer reliance

24 October 20232 min reading

Svein Tore Holsether, CEO of Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara International, addresses the mounting challenges faced by Europe's energy-intensive industry due to Russian competition. He highlights the increased dependence on Russian imports and emphasizes the need for diversification and resilience in the face of geopolitical shifts.

Yara International's CEO, Svein Tore Holsether, recently conveyed concerns over Europe's increasing reliance on Russian imports, particularly in the sectors of energy and fertilizers. In an interview with CNBC, Holsether delved into the intricacies of the European market, pointing out its vulnerability due to uneven implementation of economic sanctions against Russia.

Yara International's CEO, Svein Tore Holsether

Europe has been grappling with a series of challenges, from energy constraints to the influx of Russian competition. "Europe is facing multiple challenges both on the energy side and also now increasingly from Russian competition," Holsether commented. The significant surge in imports of energy-intensive goods, such as fertilizer, emphasizes Europe's growing dependence on Russian products.

Further, Holsether shed light on the environmental implications, noting that Russian fertilizer likely has a carbon footprint nearly double that of European products. This not only jeopardizes the European industry's aim for decarbonization but also increases the risk of structural dependencies on Russian imports.


Holsether went on to highlight the consequences Europe has faced in the energy sector and the parallels now emerging in the food industry. "We are seeing how energy is being weaponized by Russia," he remarked, expressing concerns over Europe making similar mistakes with its food and fertilizer sectors.

Addressing the dilemma that Europe faces between sourcing cheaper Russian products and the potential geopolitical consequences, Holsether emphasized the need for a long-term perspective. "In the short term, we need more food and more fertilizer. However, we must also contemplate the long-term repercussions and strengthen industries in diverse parts of the world," he said.

Holsether further mentioned the lessons from the pandemic, illustrating how intricate supply chains can be affected and stressed the need for broader food production. "We need to produce more food across the world, including Africa, but then we also need to create an enabling environment for that," he stated, expressing reservations about the current pace of this transition.

The insights provided by Holsether underscore the complex interplay of economics, geopolitics, and environmental concerns that currently shape the European fertilizer industry.

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