Talk about labeling has been going on for seven years
A photo: Ivan MAKEEV
Not a drop of foam will hit the shelves without strict supervision and control! The authorities will oblige all producers of beer and beer drinks to put special markings on their products. So that a tax is paid on each barrel and bottle, and left-handed products do not poison our happy life (for more details, see “Questions point-blank”).
The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Association of Beer Producers have agreed to introduce marking. The latter includes the three largest corporations that occupy two-thirds of our market – Baltika, Heineken and AB InBev Efes. The labeling process will start next year and will be phased:
– from April 1, 2023, codes will be applied to beer in kegs (draught),
– from October 1, 2023 – beer in glass and plastic containers,
– from January 15, 2024 – beer in aluminum cans.
PICK AND POINT
As with any controversial issue, labeling has its supporters and opponents.
Supporters are afraid that the number of poisonings from low-quality beer is growing in the country. The numbers, however, do not sound. But they cite data from the Higher School of Economics. They calculated that the share of illegal circulation of beer products over the past two years has grown by one and a half times – from 11.3 to 16.6 percent.
Other experts believe that labeling is an ambiguous measure, especially in times of crisis.
– Talk about labeling has been going on for seven years. But before, the largest manufacturers negotiated preferential terms for themselves (as a result, the timing of the introduction of labeling was postponed – Ed.). Now, for some reason, they are in favor of labeling,” says Vadim Drobiz, director of the Center for Research on Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets.
According to Vadim Drobiz, this will allow the beer giants to dominate the Russian market again. The fact is that over the past seven years, the share of large beer companies in the market has fallen from 90% to 65%. The empty “holy place” was occupied by small and medium-sized businesses, small breweries. If labeling becomes mandatory, many of them are at risk of closing, as they may not be able to economically master the innovation.
– As part of an experiment that has been going on since the beginning of last year, many beer producers have already begun to apply labels. The marking itself – 60 kopecks, plus equipment – at the beginning of 2022, he told us about the costs of manufacturers President of the Union of Producers of Alcoholic Products Igor Kosarev.
The Union of Russian Brewers has calculated that as a result of the introduction of labeling, the cost of their products will increase by 10%.
BEER DOES NOT DESTROY PEOPLE
According to Rosstat, about 7,000 to 8,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning in the country. On the one hand, it’s a lot. On the other hand, there is a downward trend. According to the Ministry of Health, over the past 10 years, the death rate from alcohol poisoning has more than halved. All this is the result of a “targeted anti-alcohol policy,” the department noted.
At the same time, most cases of poisoning are not beer at all, but singed vodka or surrogates (alcohol-containing liquids that are obviously not intended for drinking).
– Of course, beer can be poisonous, like any other alcoholic drink. For example, if something dangerous was put there. But, as a rule, the asocial audience, which does not drink legal alcohol, is poisoned. These are not the people who bought and drank good cognac or craft beer. Marking in this case will not improve the situation in any way. The state has controlled alcohol all these years and there is no illegal beer in legal retail. Mark it at least three times, there will be no point in it, – believes Vadim Drobiz.
Why is this needed?
The essence of labeling is that this way you can check all stages of the movement of goods from the manufacturer to the consumer. You scan a barcode – and you can see everything at once: what kind of product, where it came from, who released it, etc. This helps protect the market from counterfeiting.
At least, this is the result that was achieved with the introduction of labeling of fur products. It was a pilot project of the Federal Tax Service. Then it turned out not only the real volume of this market, but also the murky schemes of intermediaries and sellers who evaded taxes. As a result, the labeling made it possible both to whitewash the market and increase fees to the budget.
Does this also apply to imports?
Foreign producers who supply beer to Russia will also be required to apply the label.
And they won’t tell us “No beer”?
Our experts assure that beer from the shelves, of course, will not be lost. However, the Union of Brewers believes that after the introduction of mandatory labeling, the production of foam can be reduced by 20%.