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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

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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