Primary Sources

Soviet Food Shortages


The 1980s posed many challenges for the everyday lives of the average citizens of East Europe countries, including daily difficulties created from shortages. Buying such necessities as food, clothing, and hygiene products was recurring obstacle to the average consumer. Food shortages were the result of declining agricultural production, which particularly plagued the Soviet Union. This chart reflects the widespread underproduction throughout the Soviet Republics. Only Ukraine, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan produced a surplus. The most populous republic, Russia, was dependent on imports of all food categories in order to reach subsistence level. While these statistics are from 1991, the CIA estimated that production was only a small percentage (5.4%) below its average throughout the 1980s. In other words, the Soviet Union never produced sufficient food to feed itself.


Central Intelligence Agency, "The Republics of the Former USSR: The Outlook for the Next Year," September 1991, table 5, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

How to Cite this Source

Central Intelligence Agency, "Soviet Food Shortages," Making the History of 1989, Item #182, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:27 pm).