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Russian Vodkas Pulled From Shelves In A Growing Number Of States

February 28, 2022

Russian vodka brands are disappearing from store shelves across an increasing number of states, following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. Control states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Utah, and New Hampshire are pulling Russian products from their offerings, while Texas governor Greg Abbott also asked his state’s retailers and restaurateurs to stop selling Russian brands. The protest movement has also spread to Canada, where the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and Manitoba are banning Russian bottles.

Several states have been careful to point out that some brands with Russian heritage, such as Smirnoff and Stolichnaya, are not made in Russia, and therefore will be exempt from the bans. “Only two products stocked in stores—Russian Standard and Ustianochka 80-proof vodkas—and about a half-dozen special order brands come from Russia,” the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) noted in a statement. “As of today, these products will no longer be sold or procured by the PLCB,” said board chairman Tim Holden. “Given the evolving political-economic climate, it’s just the right thing to do.”

According to Impact Databank, the import value of Russian vodka shipped to the U.S. last year totaled $21.4 million, comprising a 1.5% share of the total $1.42 billion in imported vodka shipped to the U.S., and less than a 0.5% share of the overall vodka category in the U.S. Russian Standard, led by billionaire Roustam Tariko, is the largest premium Russian vodka brand both in the U.S. and globally. Russian Standard’s U.S. volume has hovered around 200,000 cases in recent years, while the brand’s global sales are approximately 3.7 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

Stoli Group issued a statement noting that its namesake vodka brand is produced in Riga, Latvia, and said “we unequivocally condemn the military action in Ukraine and stand in support of the Ukrainian people.” Stoli owner Yuri Shefler was exiled from Russia two decades ago.

“The safety and security of our Ukrainian team is our top priority,” said Stoli Group global CEO Damian McKinney. “We are monitoring the situation closely and are already moving swiftly and decisively to provide support where needed, both to our people on the ground as well as partners. While we do not have any operations in Russia, we do in Ukraine and across many of the bordering countries.”—Daniel Marsteller

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