Alcohol flooded from abroad

Alcohol supplies to Russia have grown explosively.
The third quarter of 2017 proved to be a shock for importers of strong alcohol: according to customs data, during this period, the volume of imports of whiskey and cognac to Russia grew more than twice, Roma - three times. However, pre-crisis figures for the supply of foreign liquor has not yet reached, experts are waiting for this in 2018.

In July-August, the import of alcohol into Russia showed explosive growth, the data of customs statistics available to Kommersant testify. Thus, the volume of supplies of whiskey, the largest category among spirits, during this period increased by 119.5%, to 10.69 million liters. More than doubled, by 109%, the volume of imports of cognacs and brandy - 2.93 million liters. The most significant increase in imports of rum - by 201%, to 1.63 million liters. Vodka supplies increased by 75.4%, to 1.07 million liters and tequila by 75.9%, to 1.02 million liters.

Because of the crisis and the weakening of the ruble in the previous two years, the volume of importation of foreign spirits to Russia was noticeably reduced. At the end of 2015, whiskey imports fell by 22.3%, Roma by 35%, tequila by 23.1%, in 2016, these categories lost another 15.4%, 10.5% and 2%, respectively. The Director of the Central Institute of Information Technologies, Vadim Drobiz, notes: the volume of import of strong alcohol began to grow since the beginning of this year. "The reason is the restoration of demand among consumers of strong drinks, especially men," - says the expert. As a result, in the first nine months of 2017 whiskey imports increased by 50.3%, to 22.09 million liters, by 39.2%, to 3.48 million liters, cognacs and brandy by 86.8%, to 6 , 93 million liters, tequila - by 37.6%, up to 2.27 million liters.

Importers of strong alcohol confirm: the demand for their products in Russia is growing. "As one of the leading companies in the market, we can confidently talk about the gradual improvement of the economic situation, as well as positive changes in consumer demand and the return of customers to their favorite brands," said Diageo's director of corporate relations (whiskey Johnnie Walker , Bell`s, etc.) in Russia, Elena Kuznetsova.

According to statistics, Diageo in January-September this year increased by 68.9% of the supply of whiskey, to 6.18 million liters. However, according to Ms. Kuznetsova, "the planning of import operations depends on many factors and is not a direct indicator of actual sales volumes in this period." One of the importers adds: a noticeable increase in imports in the third quarter may be due to the fact that in September suppliers are beginning to form stocks for the New Year holidays. "There are prerequisites to believe that this year, sales on holidays will be higher than in the past," the source said.

Unlike strong alcohol, the consumption of imported wine began to recover in September 2016, says Mr. Drobiz. This, in his opinion, explains the fact that last year the wine supplies to Russia were able to grow slightly: as previously wrote "Kommersant", imports of quiet wines grew by 4.5%, sparkling - by 4.8%. For the first nine months of this year, the volume of import of quiet wines has increased by 45.1%, to 164.93 million liters (in the third quarter, growth was 67.4%, to 64.85 million liters), sparkling - by 32.5% to 24.13 million liters (in the third quarter - by 47.2%, to 9.63 million liters). The president of MBG wine company Irina Fomina confirms: the demand for wine continues to increase this year. "We see growth in all sales channels - both on-trade and off-trade - both in Moscow and in the regions," she notes. Marketing director of Perekrestok Dmitry Medvedev, however, claims that the demand structure for imported and Russian alcohol in the chain stores in the last year is stable: "The growth in sales of imported alcohol is proportional to the increase in the number of supermarkets."

Despite the positive indicators of this year, the volume of imported alcohol imports in all key categories is still lagging behind the pre-crisis level, according to customs data. According to Mr. Drobiz, importers will be able to reach the volumes of 2014 most likely next year. "I believe that with such dynamics, as now, the import fault this year should come close to the pre-crisis indicator, and in the next - to surpass it," agrees Mrs. Fomina.