(Stockholm) The Absolut vodka brand, the Swedish flagship of the French group Pernod-Ricard, announced on Tuesday that it would interrupt its exports to Russia, whose discreet recovery had sparked a boycott movement and criticism from the Prime Minister in Sweden.
The Absolut Company, which produces one of the best-selling vodkas in the world, “ has decided to discontinue the export of its brand to Russia ” and this “ with immediate effect ”, indicates the company in a statement, citing the need to protect its employees and partners from “massive criticism in all its forms”.
Contacted by AFP, a spokesperson for Pernod-Ricard indicated that the decision concerned “ only ” Absolut, and not the other brands of the French giant, world number 2 in spirits.
The group had confirmed to AFP last week press reports that it had resumed alcohol exports to Russia, after initially suspending them due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
A decision that sparked strong criticism from senior politicians in Sweden, including Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who expressed his “ real disappointment ”.
“ The reactions of recent days clearly reflect the role that Absolut plays in the community in Sweden ”, observes the Swedish alcoholic.
“ Taking into account the need to watch over our employees and our partners, we cannot expose them to massive criticism in all its forms ”, emphasizes The Absolut Company.
Pernod-Ricard, which has owned Swedish vodka since an acquisition worth more than 5 billion euros in 2008, justified in particular the decision to re-export by protecting its employees in Russia and Moscow’s decision to allow “ parallel imports of alcohol without the permission of authorized importers, thus circumventing the sanctions”.
These explanations were not convincing in Sweden, where several famous bars and restaurants in Stockholm had removed Pernod-Ricard products from their menu. Grain suppliers also threatened to stop delivering their raw material.
The new stoppage of exports “unfortunately will not prevent Absolut from falling into the hands of the parallel market, which has increased sharply in recent months and over which we have no control”, however argues the vodka brand.
Absolut’s name comes from “Absolut Rent Brännvin”, which in Swedish means “absolutely clean brandy”.
Sales of vodka produced in Åhus in southern Sweden are around 100 million liters per year.