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Morrisons among UK retailers to boycott Russian vodka

Published:  04 March, 2022

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there have been calls to boycott Russian brands with the country’s most famous commodity, vodka, on the radar of UK retailers.

According to the latest WSTA market report, the UK vodka market was valued at £2.4 billion in 2021, the largest in the UK’s spirit category. The UK was also the leading importer of Russian vodka in 2020, ahead of Germany and Latvia, totalling £17 million.

Based on the evidence above, the UK vodka market is vitally important to Russian exporters, and some retailers are taking matters into their own hands to protest Putin’s invasion.  

Harpers can reveal today that Morrisons have removed Russian produced vodka from its shelves, “including Russian Standard”. They have also made a “£250,000 donation to the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)”.

Meanwhile, a Waitrose spokesperson told Harpers: “We have focused our efforts on making a first donation to the British Red Cross getting help quickly to those who need it most. We continue to monitor the situation regarding any potential Government sanctions on Russian products or services.”

The Whisky Exchange, the online spirits retailer, has also removed all Russian products from sale today including The Legend of Kremlin, Beluga and Russian Standard.

Furthermore, The Halewood Group have announced they are moving production of its J.J Whitley vodka from St Petersburg to Chorley this month.

A Halewood spokesperson told Harpers: “The Halewood Group is 100% opposed to the Russian Army invasion of Ukraine. We have expressed our support to our Ukrainian customers, our largest export market.

“Out of respect for the situation, we have removed all references to the ‘Remarkably Russian’ campaign across all our JJ Whitley communications.

“We are also moving some production back to our site in Chorley with immediate effect and will be bringing British-made JJ Whitley vodka to the market by the end of March.

“Halewood Artisanal Spirits is a family business founded and headquartered in the UK. The JJ Whitley Distillery in St. Petersburg is 100% owned by Halewood and has no affiliation with the Russian government.”

Harpers contacted the British government to ask if they also had plans to ban the drinks but did not receive a response in time before publication.