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CASTLE MALTING NEWS in partnership with Portuguese
25 September, 2023

Brewing news Russia: Guinness soon to be sold in Russia again, state agency claims

Guinness could soon be sold in Russia once again, according to reports stating a Kremlin agency has approved its importation, The Drinks Business reported on September 25.

The reports via Russian state agency Rosaccrediation reveal that the Moscow Brewing Company (MPC) has officially approved the distribution of Guinness in an agreement that will assist with the importation of the stout brand to the sanctions-hit country.

Despite the claims being made, Guinness owner Diageo told The Drinks Business (db) that an about-turn has not been made from the company’s end and Diageo has reiterated its stance on imports to Russia.

A spokesperson for Diageo exclusively told db: “In March 2022, we stopped all imports of our products to Russia and stopped third-party, local production of beer and bottling of spirits. In June 2022, we then took the decision to responsibly wind down our business there and that process is now almost complete. Diageo is not either directly or indirectly importing or selling any products in Russia.”

The situation of Guinness being made available in Russia, despite Diageo’s moves to stop it, has been speculated to have arisen from Russia’s access to parallel imports where a Russian company has a registered declaration issued by the respective accreditation body and then certified for this activity by Rosaccreditation, the state authority in charge, to assist in importing otherwise unobtainable alcohol into Russia.

Irrespective of Diageo’s wishes, the Moscow Brewing Company (MPC) recently received permission to supply Guinness on draughtas well as in bottles and cans to Russia and has made reference to Rosaccrediation data, with rumours circulating that the first batch of Guinness has already made it into the country. According to the reports, MCP now intends to distribute Guinness to the Russian market and “deliveries will be carried out in various formats — bottles, cans and barrels from 0.33 to 50 litres”.

Diageo had previously stated that it has stopped selling any products directly or indirectly in Russia and as tensions escalated during the Russia-Ukraine war, many leading companies also suspended sales to the country. Last March, the biggest drinks players including Diageo, Heineken and Pernod Ricard all suspended sales in Russia in protest against the invasion.

At the time the war broke out, Diageo was overseeing distribution deals in 19,000 bars and 70,000 shops in the country and, at the time, a spokesperson for Diageo stated that the company’s “priority is the safety of our people in Ukraine and the wider region.”

As a result, the company’s value took a hit, with share value declining from 3,680 GBX prior to the invasion to 3,477 by March 2022 – exacerbating a trend already worsened by inflation anxiety and rising material costs.

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