Liquor retailers across Australia have expressed concern about the situation in Ukraine and are pulling Russian vodka from the shelves.
It’s a move that has been reported amongst liquor retailers worldwide too, ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began last week. It has been reported this week that many Australian businesses are joining the boycott of Russian-made liquor, including Endeavour Group and Coles Liquor, as well as independent groups, stores and online retailers.
A spokesperson for Endeavour Group said the company was in the process of removing Russian products from its retail, hospitality and online businesses, including Dan Murphy’s BWS, Cellarmasters and ALH Hotels.
“As an organisation, Endeavour Group is deeply concerned with the situation in Ukraine and we join the calls for peace,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Coles Liquor also noted the withdrawal of Russian products was currently in process across the business, and said: “The thoughts of everyone at Coles Liquor are with the people of Ukraine and we hope for a peaceful resolution to the current crisis as soon as possible.
“We have engaged with our suppliers on community concerns regarding the sale and distribution of Russian-sourced products, and resolved to remove a number of Russian-sourced drinks from sale.”
On the independent side of the market, a number of stores and groups are taking action. This includes Independent Liquor Group (ILG), which has pulled promotional support for Russian products while its members have taken action on a store level.
“We will not be promoting it, we will not be supporting it, we will support our members who pull it from the shelves,” said ILG CEO, Paul Esposito.
“Essentially, we won’t be supporting these products, they will be removed from all promotional calendars. Our members have made a choice – a large part of our membership base have pulled the products from the shelves and we support that.”
Peter Peck, CEO of the Liquor Stores Association of WA, said this is a sentiment that the organisation has recognised across its network of independents too.
“What I’m hearing from our members is that there seems to be a groundswell, increasing every day, of people taking a stand against Russian products,” Peck said.
“These stores are copping the loss – one store for example pulled the Russian stock off their shelves, and that equated to about $300.”
Meanwhile, in the online space, alcohol marketplace Hello Drinks has also announced it has joined the Russian product boycott. On LinkedIn, Co-founder JP Tucker said the company will work on removing such products in coming days.
“HelloDrinks.com.au will stand with the Ukraine and will not be selling any Russian liquor brands until further notice. We call on our partners and others in the industry to support peace, and to stand united with the world against Russia,” Tucker wrote.
These moves by Australian retailers have been commended by the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO), with Co-Chair Stefan Romaniw noting: “Every possible signal needs to be sent to Putin and the Russian leadership that the world condemns what Russia is doing.”
The AFUO had previously called on the Australian government to expand sanctions on Russian products, and has also urged other local retailers to join in the boycott movement.
While Russian alcohol products hold a relatively small market share in Australia, Peck said that every action will make a difference in the long run.
“Boycotting Russian products already on the shelf won’t have an impact on the Russians right now, because it’s already paid for. But if the product is removed from the store and then not replaced, then that does have an impact. It takes a lot of bricks to build a house, and every single brick we can add is just one step further,” he said.
Peck also suggested that Australian products can help fill the gap left by these products being removed, as moves like this can certainly make a local difference, especially with the huge range of small distillers who would greatly benefit from being recognised as an positive alternative to Russian vodka.