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Price Hike Sees Illegal Vodka on the Rise

Published: April 17, 2014 (Issue # 1806)



  • Illegal vodka accounted for 55 percent of the entire vodka market in 2013, Igor Kosarev, vice president of distiller Russky Standart, told Kommersant.
    Photo: Maxim Stulov / Vedomosti

Legal vodka production plummeted nearly 17 percent in the first quarter this year under the weight of a state-enforced price increase and a flourishing illegal market, Kommersant reported Tuesday, citing Rosstat data.

Illegal vodka accounted for 55 percent of the entire vodka market in 2013, Igor Kosarev, vice president of distiller Russky Standart, told Kommersant.

"Given the trend that we see now, by the end of the year this share will increase to 64 percent," Kosarev said.

Just as illegally produced vodka is increasing, there is an "avalanche of stores now selling alcohol without a license," said Alexander Mechetin, CEO of alcohol producer Synergy.

Sixteen percent of stores selling alcohol in large Russian cities do not have the necessary license, according to recent research by Infoline market analysts.

The legal market has lost even more business since the state increased the minimum retail price of vodka from 170 rubles ($4.72) to 199 rubles for a half-liter bottle on March 11.

Sales of legal vodka in the lower price segment "have noticeably decreased" since that time, said Vadim Drobiz, director of the Research Center for Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets.

The situation could be further exacerbated on Aug. 1, when the minimum price will go up to 220 rubles for a half-liter bottle.

Producers of other alcoholic drinks also cut back production in the first quarter: production of Russian brandy fell nearly 21 percent to 1.3 million decaliters, while table wine fell 14.5 percent to 6.3 million decaliters and sparkling wines fell 15 percent to less than 2 million decaliters.

Isaac Sheps, chairman of the Union of Russian Brewers, predicted late last year that the beer market could shrink 25 to 30 percent in 2014, Vedomosti reported.

The market has been struck in recent years by bans on advertising alcohol in the streets, Internet and mass media, and another last year which prohibited selling alcohol after 11 p.m. and banned beer sales from street kiosks.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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