Russia: Russian brewers counting on state support to compete with imported beer

Russian beer imports have been growing recently, so domestic brewers are counting on support through regulation of import duties, the president of United Breweries, Oraz Durdyev told Interfax on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

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"Imports now have just 10% of the market, which is not that significant of a share. But they have indeed been demonstrating growth recently. This can be explained by the fact that imported beer now essentially competes in price with domestic beer," Durdyev said.

Having the option to choose imported beer is "certainly good for consumers," but the impact that growing imports are having on the domestic market is concerning, he said.

"The situation on the beer market has barely managed to stabilize after all the restrictions and logistical problems. Russian businesses have begun to increase their competitiveness, invest in the development of local brands. And so that now these efforts do not turn out to be in vain and so that producers are motived to develop further, it is important to support brewers, including through regulation of import duty rates. The rate should be such that consumers still have a choice, but imported products do not hold back the growth of locally produced beer," Durdyev said.

Russia raised the duty on beer imports from "unfriendly" countries from 0.04 euros to 0.1 euros per litre in April.

In general, Russian brewers responded quickly to the departure of global brands and the market has adapted to the new conditions, Durdyev said. Production rose 3% in 2023 and in the first four months of this year the upward trend continued, with production growing by about 10% and sales increasing.

"The market's adaptation is also reflected in the expansion of producers' brand portfolios. About 750 new beer SKU appeared on the shelf in 2023. This year, this figure will probably be higher, because 640 new products were launched just in the first quarter," Durdyev said.

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