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Spirits exempt from Russia’s new import ban

Russian consumers will still have access to spirits made in the EU and US as the category has been exempt from the country’s ban on western agricultural imports.

Spirits are exempt from Russia’s new import ban on western products, but fears for the future of the category in the country remain

Today, Russia’s prime minister Dmitry Medvedev declared that the country has banned fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway.

This decision by the Kremlin is a response to sanctions over the Ukraine as western governments accuse Russia of supplying weapons to pro-Russian separatists in the war-torn country.

The ban will take immediate effect and will last for one year. Medvedev also said the Kremlin was considering banning on European airlines flying to Asia over Siberia.

According to The Guardian, Russia is Europe’s second-largest for food and drink.

With regards to spirits, Russia has become an key market for Scotch whisky producers, as younger consumers turn away from traditional vodka, in favour of premium brown spirits.

It was reported last year that Scotch sales in Russia are set to overtake those in the UK in three years time, placing the nation as the category’s third largest market in the world.

In a recent spate of financial results, international drinks groups such as Diageo, Gruppo Campari and Pernod Ricard have seen strong growth in the region.

This recent import ban will therefore most likely cause concern for Scotch whisky producers, as relations between Russia and the West continue to deteriorate and further sanctions are feared.

However, as reported in the drinks business, EU wine is currently facing a direct threat in the region as Russia is considering a ban on European wine imports in response to sanctions over its annexation of Crimea.

Just this week, Russia’s consumer rights protection body revealed plans to suspend imports of Sazerac’s Kentucky Gentleman Bourbon, however health concerns were cited as the reason for this move, as opposed to politically-motivated sanctions.

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