This Popular Alcohol Is Being Pulled From Shelves Across the U.S.
You might not be able to find it in stores if you live in certain states.
Whether you're planning a party or simply stocking up your at-home bar cart, alcohol is often a shopping list staple. The sale of beer, wine, and liquor has only increased since the pandemic started, with liquor store sales having climbed nearly 11 percent in almost every state, per CNN. But if you've gotten used to picking up a bottle of your go-to booze during grocery trips, you could be in for disappointment in the coming weeks. One popular type of alcohol is becoming harder to find in the U.S. as it's being pulled from store shelves. Read on to find out what liquor has been banned in several states.
Some U.S. governors are ordering liquor stores to stop selling Russian vodka.
If you're a vodka fan, you might have limited options soon. The governors of several U.S. states have just ordered government-run liquor stores to pull Russian-made vodka and other distilled spirits, Reuters reported on Feb. 27. According to the news outlet, this call has come as a show of solidarity for Ukrainian people amid the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. Some of the Russian-based vodka brands being sold in the U.S. include Russian Standard and Green Mark, CNN reported.
At least four states have issued orders to ban the sale of alcohol from Russia.
Some of the states that have put a concrete ban on Russian alcohol so far include New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah. According to Reuters, Utah Governor Spencer Cox was the most recent state official to make the call. On Feb. 26, Cox issued an executive order, calling on the state's Department of Alcohol Beverage Control to remove all Russian-produced and branded products from the shelves of its retail stores.
"Russia's ruthless attack on a sovereign nation is an egregious violation of human rights. Utah stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will not support Russian enterprises, no matter how small the exchange," the governor said in a statement, per The Hill.
Other states like Texas and Virginia have also made moves to get rid of Russian-sourced alcohol brands despite no official orders. And independent businesses in other states have done the same. Bump Williams, the founder and president of alcohol distribution consulting company BWC, told USA Today that different retailers in California, Texas, Arizona, New York, Florida, Colorado and Ohio have all sent him photos of them pouring out Russian vodka this week.
The U.S. doesn't actually import much vodka from Russia.
These protests are mostly just symbolic and unlikely to have any meaningful effect—especially when it comes to you finding vodka at your local liquor stores, Reuters reported. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, only 1.2 percent of the country's vodka imports actually came from Russia in the first half of 2021. And Russian vodka accounted for just $18.5 million of the $1.4 billion worth of total vodka imports for the U.S. in 2021. In comparison, France accounted for $660 million, as reported by the council.
"The only Russian brands that you might find on the store shelves are Russian Standard and Green Mark vodkas, yet even their sales in North America make up only a minuscule amount of their global sales," Mark Schrad, PhD, an associate professor of political science at Villanova University, confirmed to NPR.
And many brands with Russian origins aren't actually made there.
Some of the brands being targeted by the recent bans and removals aren't actually based in Russia either. According to CNN, the popular brand Smirnoff is often confused for being Russian. But while its origin can be traced to 19th century Russia, this vodka company has been owned by British spirits firm Diageo for decades. And it's actually manufactured in Illinois.
The news outlet reported that some bar owners are also dumping out Stoli Vodka in protest, but this alcohol brand is only Russian by name due to its Moscow origins. It's actually made in Latvia and the company has spoken out against the recent attacks. The Stoli Group said it "unequivocally condemns the military action in Ukraine and stands ready to support the Ukrainian people, our teams and partners" in a statement to CNN Business.
"For decades, Stoli Group has supported the marginalized and those at risk of unwarranted aggression. We stand now with all Ukrainians and Russians calling for peace," a company spokesperson added.