In protest against the war in Ukraine, several supermarket chains have ceased ordering products from Russia. Vodka, in particular, is a target, even though it often gets produced in other countries.
More and more retailers report that they are banning Russian products from their assortment or at least suspending their orders. Belgian market leader Colruyt has stopped ordering products from Russia, but is still placing as many orders as possible in Ukraine, a spokesperson told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. Fewer than thirty products are affected, including food and non-food products.
Delhaize is also taking action and is removing two products from its range: Russian Standard vodka and Kamchatka crab. However, it is not a boycott: the supply would be disrupted by the war anyway, the supermarket chain says. Albert Heijn and Carrefour say they have no Russian products in their assortment, and the vodka in the Belgian Aldi stores does not come from Russia.
This also applies to well-known vodka brands such as Absolut (from Sweden) and Eristoff (from Georgia). Nevertheless, there is a risk that they will face collateral damage: on social media, several hospitality businesses and consumers have indicated that they will not be selling or consuming any more vodka for the time being.
The vodka ban is a European – and even worldwide – phenomenon: earlier this week, Aldi Nord was the first to announce that it would no longer sell vodka. The spirit was the only Russian product in the discounter’s range. Other German supermarket chains quickly followed suit: Aldi Süd, Rewe and Penny have already announced that they will no longer sell vodka. Market leader Edeka supports the sanctions but says the final decision lies with the individual stores.
Supermarket chains in the neighbouring countries of Russia and Ukraine are also taking a clear stand: Polish stores of Biedronka, Carrefour, Lidl, Kaufland, Netto and Stokrotka are taking Russian and Belarusian products off their shelves. So is Kesko in Finland and Maxima in Latvia.
Further afield, governors in several of the United States have ordered the removal of Russian spirits from the shelves, The Guardian reports. Other boycott campaigns are also taking place in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.