January 31, we can say, is a national holiday – the birthday of Russian vodka. It was on this day, back in 1865, that, as even schoolchildren probably knew, was invented by the great chemist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev. Over the past one and a half century, the forty-degree taste has not changed, but the price… Let’s talk about the price. Since January 2019, the minimum retail price (MRP) for a number of types of alcoholic beverages has increased in Russia: vodka, brandy, cognac. Discussions on the topic of whether to introduce Minimal to the entire alcohol market and, if so, which one, are traditionally conducted several times a year. Today, the situation is as follows: in the Russian Federation, they have installed MRCs for vodka, sparkling wines, brandy and brandy. They are going, but have not yet entered – on beer and quiet wine. All this goes under the sign of the fight against counterfeiting and alcoholization of the population. But the high price of alcohol makes people look for an alternative: they prefer vodka to wine, and vodka, which is already frank, is life-threatening. How setting the minimum price helps to fight for the health of the nation and affects the alcohol market in general, understood “MK”.
Now Russia has set minimum retail prices for strong alcohol, including brandy and vodka, as well as sparkling wines and champagne. The introduction of the minimum price is an extremely ambiguous measure, since it is aimed primarily at combating counterfeit goods, but at the same time it hits the consumers’ wallets. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health estimates the share of counterfeit alcohol in the market at 30%, and some experts estimate the share of fakes in small retail (the main distribution channel of counterfeit products) at 70–80%. Therefore, the chances of running into a poor-quality product is everyone who consumes alcohol, and considerable.
Minimum retail prices for vodka, alcoholic beverages and other alcoholic products stronger than 28 degrees, and both Russian and imported, were first approved by the Federal Service for the Regulation of the Alcohol Market (Rosalkogolregulirovanie) back in 2010. Since then, legal vodka in retail could not cost less than 89 rubles per 0.5 liter. However, in subsequent years, MRC for vodka did not grow at the minimum rate.
From January 1, 2019, the MRC for the “little white” rose again, by ten rubles – from 205 to 215 rubles for a half-liter bottle. However, Ruslan Bragin, a member of the Russian Marketing Specialists Guild, believes that the consumer will hardly find this drink for 215 rubles in a legal sale. Even if you take an economy segment, the average cost of a bottle will be 240–250 rubles.
Note that vodka is traditionally the best-selling category of strong alcohol in the Russian Federation. Now there are about 6 thousand vodka brands in the country, this is only according to GOST for luxury “alcohol”: with one chemical composition.
“People usually choose one of three brands known to them. If, after coming to the store, the consumer does not find a familiar brand, he quickly switches to a couple of other well-known brands, ”says Bragin. According to him, raising the minimum cost will not affect marginalized groups of the population. “They already drink moonshine and all sorts of substitutes for normal alcohol. They don’t care what to drink, as long as it is cheaper, ”he stressed.
Bragin said that a few years ago in the southern republics of Russia a bottle of vodka cost about 100 rubles, and this was considered a fair price. Those who produced such drinks went in the positive and earned their sales: they left excise taxes, used fake brands, saved on containers. The expert is convinced that MRC growth will not affect those manufacturers of counterfeit products, who have established sales channels.
The cart with the inscription “Mercedes”
Since the beginning of 2019, the minimum retail price has increased for brandy – from 293 to 307 rubles, and for brandy – from 371 to 388 rubles.
Vadim Drobiz, director of the Center for Studies of Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets, noted that an increase in the MRC means that counterfeit products have risen in price: only brandy and brandy can be sold at minimal prices. “The state keeps undervalued retail prices for these drinks. There is an official cost, but there is a real one. This is the real retail price for cognac – 450-460 rubles per bottle, and it is economically justified, – he stressed. – In Russia in 2019 they made 388 rubles. It had no effect on the market and on consumers. A normal consumer consumes high-quality products that cost more than 450 rubles and does not buy cheaper counterfeit, which is not so much, but there is one. ”
According to experts, the current minimum price for cognac from domestic grapes is too small. They emphasize that brandy is an elite product. The minimum price set now, it was turned into a kind of vodka – strong drink, and nothing more. “If you set the correct MRC and the consumption of this product decreases, then it is even good. The price of such a product in stores should start from 500 rubles for a 0.5 liter bottle, ”said Leonid Popovich, president of the Union of Winegrowers and Winemakers of Russia. – The manufacturer understands that for less than 500 rubles he can not make a drink, and retail chains tell him, give the product for 388 rubles. What then remains to the farmers? The first option is to produce nothing and leave the market. The second: to change the production technology in the direction of cheaper end product.
As the expert put it figuratively, you can make a Mercedes for the price of a cart, but as a result we will get the same cart, only with the inscription Mercedes. “So, cognac is a“ premium car ”in wine production,” concluded Popovich.
Guilty without wine
Among the wines MRT installed only on sparkling – 164 rubles per bottle. The minimum price for a quiet, fortified, dessert wine in Russia has not been established. It is believed that the wine segment requires free regulation, and minimum prices will only hinder this. However, Leonid Popovich believes that the “minimal salary” for wine is needed. “Producers of such products see positive aspects in the statement of the minimum retail price. They turn to the Rosalkogolregulirovanie and the Ministry of Agriculture with a request to resolve this issue. While it is being considered, ”said the expert.
At the same time, Popovich believes that the minimum price for sparkling wine is long overdue to revise upwards, and the MRC for a quiet, dry wine should be 5–10% less than for a sparkling wine. Prices for liqueur wines, on the contrary, according to him, should be higher, since they are above the excise tax.
“It is necessary to install” minimal salmon “simultaneously on all types of wine: still, sparkling, liqueur, wine drinks and fruit wines. When the whole range of wine products will be placed in proportion to the minimum prices, we will see a fair pricing system, ”the head of the Union of Winegrowers and Winemakers of the Russian Federation emphasized.
Interestingly, the Public Chamber will ask the deputies to give Russian wine the official status of a food product, and not an alcoholic beverage, in order to take it out of control of the Rosalkogolregulirovanie. According to Popovich, in the technical regulation “On the safety of food products,” wine refers to food as it is. “The announcement of this drink as food is a veiled proposal to make the sale of wine without excise and strict regulation,” he said.
The expert is convinced that minimum prices are needed. They should be calculated on the basis of real costs, starting from the production of grapes: the cost should be covered. However, consumers are unlikely to be happy that the prices for wine consumed by almost all strata of the Russian population will increase by 5–10% in an “orderly” manner.
There is no “minimal salary” for beer in Russia. However, discussions about its possible introduction are raging without end. One of the reasons why it is impossible to enter the minimum retail price for this drink is the strong difference in beer: variety, packaging (cans, glass bottles, PET), price, said Elena Tsvetkova, chairman of the board of the National Union of Beer and Beverage Producers. “How to understand what should be MRC? For large manufacturers, the “minimum wage” can be 40 rubles, and this amount will not bring any benefit to a small plant: given the high costs of manufacturing, only the cost of production is about 100 rubles per liter, ”she emphasized. The expert believes that if the MRC is installed, the consumer will not lose anything, except for the beer, which should not be on the market, which is sold illegally in “gray” outlets.
“If we talk about the fight against counterfeit, then we are talking about beer, from which the excise tax has not been paid: it is about 25 rubles per liter, including VAT. In some shops of draft beer there are drinks, the cost of which is 50–60 rubles per liter. If we subtract 25 rubles for the excise tax, the seller’s mark-up from this price, and divide the amount received into beverage production and logistics, we get a ridiculous amount. The question is, but what was it made of? In this case, the MRC will be an indicator of quality and a guarantee of a safe product, ”Tsvetkova said.
It turns out that if a buyer meets a beer in a store for 50 rubles for 1 l, he will have to make a choice: either to support an illegal manufacturer with a ruble, or to refuse to drink such a drink altogether.
By the way, the last five years in Russia are about 7 billion liters, judging by the fact that about 140–150 billion rubles come from excise taxes every year. That beer is most drunk in our country.
The minimum tends to the maximum
The main trend of 2019 is the fight against remote alcohol sales through the Internet, Anna Vovk, a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told MK. “The shadow market of online sales last year grew by 23%, despite the formal ban. Alcohol through the Internet is sold by many: importers, and retail chains, and suppliers of exclusive alcohol imported in private. The sellers found a mass of options for circumventing the prohibitions, says the expert. – In 2019, the fight against online sales is expected to intensify, even blocking websites. This is done to enhance control: checking products in the store is much easier than in an abstract online store. However, trustworthy importers and sellers may well suffer from this ban. ” MRC is unlikely to help with the cleansing of counterfeit e-commerce.
In general, in the near future, the “minimum wage” should remain unchanged, since it takes time to assess the effect of the changes adopted in early 2019. Reckless increase can lead to very serious consequences, says Anna Vovk.
Meanwhile, in order not to start a discussion every time on how much to change the MRC, but at the same time to take into account inflation in the cost of alcohol, as well as all the costs associated with the production of goods, officials began to develop something new. One of the ideas that is being considered now is to force the robot to calculate the “minimum salary” by laying a special formula in it so that it periodically gives out a new price. The idea of a single formula for all types of alcohol is to work out the Ministry of Finance. However, experts doubt the effectiveness of this approach. “There’s no point in rowing all the alcohol with one comb. For example, various alcoholic cocktails in banks are in particular demand among young people, which undermines their health, vodka consumption is fraught with strong alcohol poisoning, but people buy sparkling wine on holidays, and setting a minimum price will not affect demand. Each drink needs an individual approach depending on the preferences of the population, ”the CCI member is convinced.
From the foregoing, it follows that to “fix” the minimum cost is not to rid the market of illegal alcohol. Reducing counterfeit if it goes, then not thanks to the “minimum salary”. However, since its introduction, some manufacturers have been forced into a “shadow” in order to avoid additional costs associated with the changed rules of the game in the alcohol market. The minimum retail price is likely to hide behind the officials who are tasked to clean up the legal retail from the “burns”.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE “PALAN” VODKA?
When buying a bottle of alcohol, the cashier should read the information from the product twice. The data from the bottle barcode is sent online to Rosalkogolregulirovanie. On the check issued for the purchase there should be a special barcode that indicates that the sale of alcohol is fixed in the Unified State Automated Information System.
There are a number of free applications for mobile devices that allow you to check the legality of alcoholic beverages. For example, Rosalkogolregulirovanie developed an application that allows you to scan a QR code (carries a database with the characteristics of the goods) on the label, find out almost all the information about alcohol purchased, and also make sure that the outlet itself is licensed to sell alcohol. There are also applications that allow us to read the USAIS QR codes and excise stamps and determine the contents of the bottle from them.