Moonshine gets its second wind due to rise in prices for alcohol in Russia

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Due to the rise in prices in Russia, sales of alcohol have decreased by 14.5%, whereas sales of moonshine stills have increased four times

The increase in prices for alcohol related to the rise in excise duty in 2014 led to the falling of retail sales and alcohol brewing, states the Federal Service for Alcohol Market Regulation.

"The development of alcohol brewing clearly illustrates that people are unwilling to pay high prices for alcohol," said the Head of the Federal Service Igor Chuyan at the meeting on increasing the competitiveness and regulating the alcohol market, which was held in Moscow on Friday.

According to him, the sales of moonshine stills increased by 3-4 times in 2014 against the previous year. At the same time, retail sales of alcohol beverages decreased by 14.5%, including those of vodka by 14.4%. Last year, $227.1 mln. worth of alcohol beverages was sold in Russia (excluding beer drinks). The decrease in sales has led to the reduction in alcohol beverages production by 22.9%, including that of vodka by 22.5%.

At the same time, Chuyan said, there was registered the increase in retail sales of certain types of alcohol beverages, particularly of beer. "By the end of the year, retail sales of beer have exceeded the volume of production by 7.9 mln. decalitres, or by 15%. According to him, this proves that there are illegal beer beverages on the alcohol market.

Low-alcohol drinks manufacturers got interested in the beer market due to the lower excise duties, as well as lack of licensing and labeling. Excise duty per liter of beer of 7 degree strength is 18 rubles; 28 rubles liter of low-alcohol beverage of the same strength.

Excise duty on strong spirits increased from 210 rubles in 2010 to 500 rubles in 2014. The sharpest increase was in 2013 and 2014. The minimum retail price for vodka, in its turn, has increased from 89 rubles for 0.5 liters in 2010 to 220 rubles in 2014.

In 2014, the government decided to freeze the excise duty on alcohol for the next two years, and to adjust it to inflation two years later. Chuyan was positive about that decision. Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier that he was against the overpricing of alcohol, as that would only exacerbate the situation. "I am totally against alcoholization of the population. Of course, we should fight it. But the methods of fighting should be well-designed. Overpricing of alcohol will only lead to the increase in consumption of surrogate alcohol," he said at the end of December.

In 2014, the supervisory bodies excluded more than 1 mln. liters of alcohol and more than 3 mln. liters of alcohol beverages from illegal turnover. As compared to 2013, the volume of seized alcohol increased by 46%, 2 times for alcohol beverages.

Text and pictures by INTERFAX.RU