Oct 15, 2021
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Goodbye, “Guinness!”


Photo: Artem Geodakyan / TASS

From the archives of the Armenian radio:

– Why does beer come out of a person earlier than milk?

– He doesn’t need to change the color.

– Why Russian beer comes out earlier than German?

– He doesn’t need to change his taste.

But the price tags for imported beer will probably have to be changed in the near future. The Union of Russian Brewers asked the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade to increase import customs duties on beer. According to domestic brewers, the current rate is 0.018 euros, or less than 2 euro cents! – symbolic. And you need to raise it up to a tangible 1 euro.

The Brewers’ Union has chosen a good time for its initiative. The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade is currently working on options for increasing duties on European products imported into Russia. Mainly for alcoholic beverages and perfumes. The measure will be adopted as a response to the actions of the European Union to restrict the import of Russian steel. If the Russian economic department adds beer to alcoholic beverages and spirits, the question of raising the issue can be considered technical.

Contract brewer and author of the telegram channel “Prosto Beer” Alexander Savitsky believes that the initiative to raise duties on imported beer has been ripe for a long time:

– This can be confirmed by the recent history of recalculation of import duties for importers of Belgian fruit beer. The customs officials quite unexpectedly announced that cherry and other similar beer falls under a special category of “other fermented drinks”, the duty for which is much higher than for “malt beer”. Even then, it became clear that imports were gradually being “probed” and the story would not end with fruit varieties alone.

“SP”: – If the proposal of the Union of Russian Brewers is accepted and the duties are raised, will the imported beer become much more expensive?

– The figure of 1 euro per liter that appears in the circulation of the PSA is actually a protective duty, which will lead not to an increase in prices, but to the disappearance of most types of imported beer from the shelves. Now the import duty on beer is approximately from 1.5 rubles to 3.5 rubles per liter (depending on the volume of the container), and may become more than 80 rubles. The domestic consumer is unlikely to be ready to pay 150 rubles for what was three times cheaper yesterday.

“SP”: – Is there a lot of imported beer in Russia at all? Does it threaten our brewers?

– The share of imported beer in Russia, according to various estimates, is about 5%. On the one hand, this is not much, on the other hand, sales of imported varieties have grown several times in recent years. And this is largely due to chain retailers and, in particular, alcohol stores, thanks to which you can now find German and Czech beer on sale at the price of domestic or even cheaper. Such beer, despite its modest market share, is a serious competitor to the products of Russian breweries, mainly regional ones. So it comes as no surprise that they are in favor of imposing huge duties on beer imports.

It should be understood that not all market participants are in favor of raising duties, but one specific organization – the Union of Russian Brewers. It includes about two hundred independent large and small breweries. These are mainly regional producers. They do not import foreign beer. And the increase in duties only plays into their hands.

But the Russian Association of Beer Producers (APP) strongly opposes the increase in import duties. This organization includes international brewing giants operating in Russia – AB InBev Efes, Carlsberg (owns Baltika) and Heineken. They, of course, not only brew beer in Russia, but also import many brands of the intoxicating drink from abroad. According to the APP, the sharp increase in duties is not aimed at supporting domestic breweries at all. First of all, it will restrict competition. And it will also hit the wallet of those Russians who prefer only imported beer. They tend to be very loyal to their favorite brands.

In this vein, another anecdote comes to mind. True, it was originally about vodka.

– Dad, the prices for beer have been raised, now you will drink less!

– No, son, you will eat less!

It is noteworthy that the PSA proposal to raise duties on imported beer is not shared by all small Russian brewers. This measure will not help the development of small market players, I’m sure Pavel Olshansky, owner of the Truel brewery:

– It is understood that it will be a little easier for business, because imported beer will be more expensive. But it is not import that pulls domestic brewers to the bottom. And the administrative burden borne by all small businesses. In Russia, even the smallest brewery has a full-fledged taxation system – with value added tax (VAT), with calculations and accruals of excise taxes, with constant control by the tax authorities. For a small business, this is very burdensome. If you have a brewery with only two people, for example, then you definitely need another person just to answer inquiries from the tax and other regulatory authorities.

“SP”: – Do these requests come in non-stop mode or what?

– Yes, the regulatory authorities are constantly asking for something, conducting checks, then cross-checking. Plus they make mistakes all the time. Or even complete nonsense write in the request. For example, we were asked twice to report on our work in space.

SP: – Do you supply beer to the ISS?

– If! I am, of course, very pleased that they have such a high opinion of me. But the fact of the matter is that we are not supplying anything into space. And the answer to the request took a certain working time from the accountant in order to compose a competent answer to this absurdity. Because if you don’t answer, you get a fine.

“SP”: – Is it only the administrative burden that prevents you from developing?

– Of course not. Again, there are many obstacles in our business. For example, the excise tax. In the same Europe, a micro-business of such a volume as mine does not pay any excise tax at all. And in many cases it also receives subsidies. And we not only pay the excise tax, but also because of its payment, we cannot participate in any state business support program. And we, for example, would not really hurt to buy equipment at a discounted price.

SP: – If the Russian authorities support the PSA initiative and raise import duties on imported beer, some buyers will remain faithful to their favorite drinks and simply agree to pay more. But there will certainly be those who will look for a replacement among the products of Russian breweries. Do you have something to attract such consumers?

– Of course, there is good beer in Russia. It is brewed by both giants and small craft breweries. Among our beers, the most popular among buyers are IPA (Indian pale ale beer, – ed.) And Heles (Munich light lager beer, – ed.). Tomato gose is also in great demand on the market. This variety was generally invented in Russia.

“SP”: – I must confess, the first time I hear about this variety. How to drink such beer?

– This variety belongs to tomato stouts. Everything is the same as with wine. This is no longer a mainstream drink. You can’t take it, as young people love it – take 50 cans and blow it out for three for the evening. You take a few bottles of it and in the evening calmly drink it while talking, savor it.

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