By Denis Sheehan, Publisher, H&C News: Will the UK hospitality industry ban sales of Russian vodka?
The war in Europe playing out in real time only 1,500 miles from the UK is somewhat surreal, only weeks ago it would have seemed inconceivable. But here we are watching the Russian military machine attempting to invade Ukraine.
At such times it seems that we are powerless, what can any one individual do beyond absorbing the news and trying to comprehend it. While 1,500 miles away people just like you and me who enjoy the privileges of democracy are seeing them in danger of evaporating.
Boys, men approaching retirement age, all males between the age of 18 and 60 are no longer going about their normal daily lives. They volunteer or have been conscripted to take up arms and protect their family and friends from mortal danger. Women wave goodbye to husbands, sons, and fathers as they do so. On our doorstep.
Beyond prayers and or good wishes, our ability to provide practical help seems more distant than the front line.
But, as in any collective effort, small actions can and do make a difference, they help in creating a compounding effect.
The hospitality and catering industry in the UK sells enormous amounts of vodka, much of which originates from and provides revenues to Russia. In the general scheme of things that seems miniscule. But to Russian vodka exporters the UK market is of critical importance.
The most recent ‘Russian’ figures we could find are from 2016 where The Moscow Times reported: “The trend mirrors growing vodka production in Russia as a whole, with distilleries bottling on average 16 percent more spirit than in 2015.
“Germany came first place among importers of Russian vodka, buying 6.9 million litres in 2016, a report by the Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets (TSIFFRA) announced on Thursday.
“It was followed by Ukraine, which imported 6.4 million litres, Britain with 3.5 million litres, and the United States with 2.5 million litres.”
At the same time, following the annexing of Crimea sanctions were reported in The Moscow Times having a negative impact: “Producers and businesses, who saw revenue from exports fall by 40 percent in 2015 as anti-Russian sanctions began to bite.”
Currently Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is reporting countries already acting: “Canada also said it was removing Russian vodka and other Russian-made alcoholic beverages from liquor store shelves over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Countless countries produce and sell vodka, not just Russia, if hospitality businesses in the UK stopped buying and selling Russian vodka plenty of non-Russian vodkas remain available. The question of course is will they? Seemingly small actions can and do make a difference, they help in creating a compounding effect.