Major Australian liquor retailers have boycotted Russian vodka and other products in solidarity with Ukraine, but the move may be less significant than you think because very few Russian-branded boozes are actually made there.
Dan Murphy’s, BWS, alcohol delivery service Jimmy Brings, Cellarmasters and ALH Hotels (all owned by parent company Endeavour Group) have removed Russian booze from their shelves in response to lobbying from members of the Australian Ukrainian community.
Endeavour Group published a statement on Monday that stated the company was “deeply concerned with the situation in Ukraine”.
“Following feedback from a variety of stakeholders, we have decided to remove products of Russian origin from our stores, hotels and online businesses in the coming days,” the statement read.
The decision came after the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations wrote to the Federal Government urging it to ban the import and distribution of Russian products.
It suggested the government banned Russian products, closed the Russian consulate in Sydney and cancelled visas for Russian visitors and students.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison imposed sanctions on Russia before it launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday and has since said the government was willing to take further steps, like banning all trade.
Look, it’s a good move from a major company. Endeavour Group is Australia’s largest liquor retailer with more than 1,500 Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores nationwide.
But Russian vodka only makes up a tiny portion of Australia’s spirit market.
In fact Dan Murphy’s only stocks three vodka brands that are actually at least part-Russian — Russian Standard, Green Mark and Beluga.
What we’d assume was the biggest Russian brand on our shelves, Smirnoff, is actually owned by British drinks giant Diageo and for the Australian market the products are made right here.
Poliakov vodka is distilled “following Russian traditions” but is actually French-made and owned.
Stolichnaya (Stoli) vodka, although Russian-themed, is actually manufactured mostly in Latvia, as well as in Spain, Italy, Mexico, Argentina and United States.
Its parent company SPI Group does have production facilities for other products in Russia, but it’s Luxembourg-owned.
Stoli Group has published a statement on which said it “stands for peace in Europe and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people”.
This came after liquor stores in the US and Canada declared similar boycotts on Russian booze but consumers were left confused when the big vodka brands remained for sale.
Many stores in the US have begun removing Russian vodka. pic.twitter.com/KFT1WoGFNy
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) February 28, 2022
Endeavour Group’s boycott was also a reminder that politicians, organisations and media will leap into urgent action when a crisis has broken out in the west, compared to the Middle East or Africa.
For example, we haven’t seen bans on Israeli products from any major Australian retailers after years of Israeli invasion and apartheid in Palestine, despite a long-running campaign by Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) calling for the same outcome.
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