States want to boycott Russian vodka. Here’s why it won’t work

States want to boycott Russian vodka.  Here's why it won't work

So far, officials in Ohio, Utah and New Hampshire have called on liquor stores to remove Russian-made or branded products from shelves, a move that largely targets vodka because it is most closely associated with the country.
Spencer Cox, Governor of Utah demand Saturday that state-run alcohol outlets “remove all Russian-made and Russian-branded products,” explaining that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a “flagrant violation of human rights.” man”.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu made a similar announcement, also calling for the removal of “Russian-made and Russian-branded liquor.”

These moves are largely symbolic — and may even miss their mark — because very few brands imported into the United States still produce alcohol in Russia.

Many of the top-selling vodka brands that originated in Russia are now distilled in several countries, including the United States.

For example, some bar owners are protesting the invasion of throw the Stoli vodka. The problem is that it’s just the Russian name, which is loosely translated as “capital” due to its origins in Moscow. The vodka is actually made in Latvia, and the company’s headquarters are in Luxembourg, a NATO member that has spoken out against the Russian invasion.

In a statement to CNN Business, Stoli Group said it “unequivocally condemns military action in Ukraine and stands ready to support the people of Ukraine, our teams and our partners.”

“For decades, the Stoli Group has supported the marginalized and those at risk of unjustified assault. We now stand with all Ukrainians and Russians calling for peace,” a spokesperson for the organization said. society.

Smirnoff it’s another brand to be confused as being Russian. Although it traces its heritage to 19th century Russia, the company was long owned by the British spirits giant Diageo (WD) and is made in Illinois.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was more targeted with his announcement. On Saturday, he asked the state’s nearly 500 liquor stores to “stop both buying and selling all vodka made by Russian Standard, the only Russian distillery overseas with vodka sold in Ohio”.

Russian Standard, along with the lesser known Green Mark vodka, is one of the few liquor brands imported from Russia and sold in the United States. Its parent company, Roust International, is owned by Roustam Tariko, a Russian oligarch who also owns Russian Standard Bank. The liquor company did not immediately respond to CNN Business’ request for comment.

These boycotts are largely symbolic because Russian-made vodka accounts for only a very small percentage of the roughly $7 billion in annual vodka sales, according to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), a national trade organization that represents makers. of spirits.

Less than 1% of the vodka consumed in the United States is produced in Russia. In fact, more than half of all vodka consumed in the country is made here, according to data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, a global company that tracks alcohol sales.

Vodka imported from Russia has been declining for several years and is down 79% since 2011, DISCUS said.