Absolut Vodka halts exports to Russia after backlash

Numerous absolut vodka bottles lined up next to each other

Absolut Vodka will stop exporting its products to Russia after a backlash in its home country, Sweden.

The company initially halted the exports in March 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine.

But its parent company, Pernod Ricard, confirmed that some exports had resumed – which sparked fury.

Pernod Ricard has now announced they have stopped Absolut Vodka exports again, in order to protect their staff and partners from criticism.

It said it was exercising its “duty of care towards our employees and partners, we cannot expose them to massive criticism in all forms”.

Last week, many top bars and restaurants in Sweden pulled the drink from their shelves, and politicians condemned its export, following media reports it was being sold to Russia.

The Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he was “very surprised” to hear the company had resumed exports.

And three Swedish artists launched a viral campaign, depicting a picture of a smouldering bomb crater in the shape of the Absolut bottle.

Stephanie Durroux, the CEO of Absolut, said the strong reaction to Absolut restarting Russian trade showed the role the brand played in Swedish society.

“We acknowledge the significance of these long-standing and trusting relationships with our Swedish employees, partners, consumers, and the Swedish society at large,” she added.

Before the war Pernod Ricard made about 3% of its annual sales on the Russian market, and despite pulling Absolut Vodka, the company will continue to sell some products to Russia.

In 2022, Russia changed its import laws to bypass EU sanctions. The changes allowed for the import of goods into Russia without the permission of their authorised importers.

On Friday, the Kremlin published a list of goods from numerous foreign markets – including carmakers and technology companies – that the government has included in its parallel imports scheme.

Absolut warned they had no control over the parallel market and their vodka could still get into Russia that way.

“For clarity, this will unfortunately not prevent Absolut from falling into the hands of the ‘parallel market’, which has strongly increased in recent months and over which we have no control,” Pernod Ricard said.


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