Yevgeny Prigozhin, largely known as the head of Wagner PMC but also part owner of Concord Catering and Consulting, has asked the Russian Ministry of Defense to release his food service company from their contract of supplying the armed forces with meals both in garrison and in the field.
According to a letter shared on pro-Wagner social media channels, the Russian MoD has refused to buy from Concord’s “list of loyal suppliers” which will raise costs. Without a price limit in place, Prigozhin says it will lead to “uncontrolled spending of budgeted funds.”
According to the letter, the average cost to feed a service member deployed in Ukraine is 296 Rubles, or about $3.50 USD, per day. This low cost is reportedly possible due to Concord managing its own logistics and production capabilities, as well as offering its own line of branded products “specifically for the nutrition of military personnel” since it won the contract in 2006.
The projected increase to 358 Rubles, or around $4.30 USD, is reportedly brought on by the military bringing in new suppliers, “some of which belong to owners from unfriendly countries” Prigozhin says. “Under such a contract, it will be impossible to control the cost of a set of products due to the absence of a price limit for suppliers,” he claims.
“I believe that this decision may strike at my business reputation, since these changes do not reflect the interests of the Russian Federation,” he concluded in his letter addressed to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
“In view of the circumstances, I ask you to release the Concord Company and group of companies from their obligations to organize meals for military personnel in the special military operation zone under the new conditions, due to the fact that I consider it impossible to take part in the uncontrolled waste of funds.”
Concord, Prigozhin’s food service company, has supplied government and military institutions with meals, including during combat operations in Ukraine and Syria, since the company won the contract in 2006.
However, he was sued over 560 times in 2022, allegedly for violations including “undersized quantities of food, expired products, substitutions of substituted products with substitutes of other quality, E. coli detected in food, cooks without health certificates, violations in storage, and so on,” according to Russian media. The Russian MoD’s procurement entity, JSC Voentorg, filed the suit claiming 107 million rubles, around $1.3 million USD, in damages.