Thursday, March 23, 2006

Vodka and Liquor Production Sinks 59% in January-February

ITAR-TASS The Russian Federal Statistics Service has reported that vodka and liquor production sank by 59% in January-February as compared with the same period in 2005. I'm wondering if this has anything to do with everyone's liver recovering after a 10-day New Years holiday this year. As Sergei added to the "If You Are Russian ..." posting:
Last year it was 10 days off for the country too. It was a hard burden ... both on wallets and on livers of Russians. 5 days of vodka is good, 10 days - too much.
Just as Germans lay off the beer after Oktoberfest, so it appears that Russians backed off the vodka after the big New Years holiday this year.

Postscript - Seeing this empty bottle of Putinka reminds me of when Katja and I bought these bottles in October 2005. It was my last day in Moscow, and I wanted to get some bottles to bring home for friends (well ... one was for me, of course). We went around to
a little collection of stores near Izmailovo and I asked for four bottles of the Putinka Vodka. Sergei had bought and served this brand of vodka earlier and I thought my friends and coworkers would be amused by the name.

The woman at the very crowded little store asked if we wanted the large or small bottles. Katja and I replied four of the large bottles (smaller bottles are 500 ml) and her eyes lit up. After that, we were her number one customer! It was really remarkable the change that came over her and how excited she was to ask if we needed anything else. We walked out of there having spent maybe $30 on vodka and chocolates to stash in my duffle bag for the flight home.

One more important vodka note: Kommersant is reporting a halt of vodka production in Moscow due to some confusion and lack of availability of new tax stamps/labels for bottles of vodka.
Moscow-based Kristall alcoholic beverage factory announced the suspension of the output yesterday while a number of other large producers, Russkiy Alkogol and Soyuz-Viktan, reported they are on the verge of the halt.

New obligatory documentary stamps for vodka bottles were introduced this year and producers maintain that the authorities keep them in shortage of the stamps. “Kristall has received only 34 percent of the stamps we need since the new year,” Dmitry Dobrov, an official at Kristall, said. Other market participants also lament the shortage. “We received 350,000 stamps yesterday which will be enough for one day. If we don’t get more today, we will have to halt the production,” Vladimir Ivanov, the deputy director general at Russkiy Alkogol, said. The Federal Tax Service fails to explain the problem with the stamps, the producers claim.

Other alcohol factories, however, do not report any problems saying that the tax service permitted them to use old types of documentary stamps since bottles with old stamps will be sold until July 1. Crisis-striken factories, in contrast, refuse to use old stamps, afraid of problems with later sales. Goznak, the state printer of documentary stamps, in turn, won't to meet the companies half-way blaming Kristall and other factories for their stubbornness.
We here at the Accidental Russophile know that vodka production is very important business, so we will keep our eyes peeled and our zakuski ready for anymore developments in this breaking news story. Kommersant has three reporters (Svetlana Mentyukova, Maria Shevchenko, and Viktor Khilko) on this single story.

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