World alcohol brands admitted that they are unable to prevent the supply of their products to Russia. Representatives of the companies claim that they cannot control the multi-stage sales chains, as a result of which elite alcohol enters the Russian market. And the tools at their disposal are expensive and far from always effective, writes Bloomberg with reference to market participants.
The problem came to the fore amid the scandal surrounding the Swedish vodka producer Absolut (part of the Pernod Ricard conglomerate), which was trying to take control of the illegal supply of its products to Russia. For this, he announced the resumption of supplies, but after sharp criticism of the company and its employees, he decided to abandon this idea. About a week elapsed between the decision to resume supplies and the second refusal of them. Absolut CEO Stephanie Durru admitted that it would not be possible to completely cut off the supply of products due to Russian “parallel imports”.
Other global alcohol brands are also blamed for similar supply problems. Diageo (Jonnie Walker whiskey, Guinnes beer, Baileys liqueur, etc.) and Remy Cointreau (Remy Martin cognac, Metaxa brandy) admit that they cannot control gray deliveries of their products to Russia, besides, many former partners could still have some - stocks of alcoholic products. New deliveries, most likely, are carried out through third countries that did not join the sanctions, representatives of the companies say, and international companies practically cannot influence these deliveries.
“We don’t know as we haven’t sold a single product in Russia since January 2022. We cannot track all the bottles,” said a Remy Cointreau representative, answering a question about the origin of products within Russia.
According to the agency, this is direct evidence that the "parallel import" adopted by the Russian government is working successfully. Copyright holders are simply unable to track all deliveries made by small intermediary companies, and the goods still end up in Russia. Moreover, similar problems arise in other companies - suppliers of electronics, furniture, clothing, cosmetics and even children's toys.
Absolut was afraid not only of uncontrolled deliveries to Russia, but also of the growth of fakes of its own products - this, as they say in the company, motivated the decision to return to the Russian market. Stephanie Durru agrees with her colleagues: the company has practically no control over gray supplies, even the refusal of legal supplies will not stop them, she is sure.
Experts, however, do not fully agree with the representatives of the companies. They insist that international companies could increase control over their partners in countries that border Russia and did not impose sanctions, as well as require all their official distributors that they will not sell products in favor of companies that may be associated with supplies in Russia. However, according to experts, this will require additional costs from companies, and it will still not be possible to cut off supplies by 100%.